14th January 2019

Universal Credit needs to change now

Children’s Commissioner for England

Children have told me how their parents have been forced to visit foodbanks while they wait the five weeks for their first Universal Credit payment.

There are even schools with foodbanks to feed hungry children whose parents can’t afford to buy basic supplies and groceries.

This isn’t right. I welcome Amber Rudd’s announcement on 11 January that she is scrapping the extension of the two child benefit cap to those on Universal Credit. It is good news – but it’s only the start.

She needs to go much further and she needs to do it now. The system is supposed to support hard working parents and their children but at the moment it is just punishing them.

That’s why I back The Sun’s Make Universal Credit Work campaign. Our children deserve a system that gets rid of the delays, pays families quicker and allows parents to keep more of their hard-earned cash.

Too often I meet families being held back, having to navigate a complex and rigid social security system or at their wits end because Universal Credit is penalising them.

The government needs to halt the rollout of Universal Credit to make sure that no child will be worse off.

Amber Rudd needs to fight for more resources to help families transitioning onto Universal Credit.

Where the system isn’t working – as The Sun has shown by highlighting the heart-breaking tales of Brits drowning in thousands of pounds worth of debt while they wait for their first payment or those who have given up work due to the complicated childcare system – she should not be afraid to admit and change it.

The Government should also use its big spending review later this year to provide more support for families who are struggling, including more help for programmes like family hubs and Sure Start, which can help prevent families from tipping into crisis in the first place.

When you see a train hurtling down the tracks towards a child, there is no excuse not to intervene.

Now is the time for the Government to admit mistakes were made, step up and solve them. Universal Credit must support those who need it, not hold them back.

The post was originally published in The Sun

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