Matt Rodda, Reading East MP, joined 298 other MPs on 18 October to call for a delay in the roll-out of the government’s new welfare payments called universal credit (UC). The parliamentary vote was not contested by the government, but was also non-binding.
In his parliamentary speech, Matt Rodda said that UC was due to be rolled out in Reading in early December.
“It is difficult to imagine the stress and deep financial distress that many of the people on this benefit will face over Christmas because of the ill-considered timing,” he said.
“The six-week payment delay is a severe flaw. It does not take account of the reality that many people, especially those on low incomes, not only budget on a bi-weekly basis, but are in some cases paid once every two weeks. In our area, Reading Borough Council and local charities will do their very best to help those affected, but they have already raised serious concerns about this delay. ”
The roll-out of universal credit was also raised at the Reading Borough Council meeting on 17 October.
“UC will be rolled out in two stages in Reading depending on a claimant’s post code. The first stage will be from 6 December 2017, which will cover most of Reading, then with the remaining areas following on 17 January 2018,” said council leader Jo Lovelock.
“[The] Council is offering to support UC claimants… and can help by assisting the claimant to organise an advanced payment, preparing them for monthly budgeting including setting up serviceable bank accounts and to make a food parcel referral where necessary,” added Councillor Lovelock. “We have dedicated officers in place who can assist UC claimants including assisted digital support which can help with the making of a UC claim or the ongoing maintenance of their claim. We are also in the process of fully updating our website to give claimants full information on what UC is, how to make a claim and what support is available to them.”
- Universal credit: the government’s website and the council’s website.
- Universal credit roll-out parliamentary debate
- Early day motion calling on the government to review the roll-out of UC.
- RBC 17 October meeting page, questions from councillors and video (UC debate starts at 1:06:45, or point 6).
- Matt Rodda at parliament.uk, TheyWorkForYou and his own website.