An analysis of the government’s controversial welfare shake up has revealed that as many as one in five households affected will be an average of £52 a week worse off.
This week the Secretary of State for Works and Pensions finally admitted for the first time that some people would be worse off under the current plans for the Universal Credit scheme with even some Tory MPs threatening to rebel against it unless the cuts to people’s overall welfare are mitigated by spending billions more before rolling it out across the country.
Esther McVey confessed to Conservative colleagues that the government’s flagship £15.8 billion welfare reforms would leave some families £200 a month worse off.
This summer there were calls for McVey to resign after she misled MPs about advise from the National Audit Office. She had claimed that the independent spending watchdog had told her to roll out Universal Credits quicker, when in fact they had warned McVey that it must be halted in a highly critical report.
This weekend more warnings emerged as a study revealed the Tories’ implementation of the Universal Credits will leave millions worse off, including 60,000 working single parents, 750,000 households on disability benefits, 600,000 self-employed people, 300,000 families with more than two children.
The report by Practice in Policy revealed in The Observer also found that 2 million people, including private tenants in work and people too ill to work will be better off, but only by an average of £26 a week.
However the Department for Works and Pensions insisted that the government was ploughing ahead with the Universal Credits roll out around the country.
This despite concerns from their own MPs, with even the architect of the much-hated policy, Esther McVey’s former boss at the DWP Iain Duncan Smith himself insisting that the £2 billion that the Tories cut from the system need to be paid back into the new benefit system for it to work fairly.
When Theresa May promised at the Conservative Party Conference announcement that austerity would be over, she clearly did not mean it would be over for everyone.
If MPs do not manage to defeat her plans to roll out Universal Credit to replace millions of people’s benefits around the country next year, or elicit billions more spending to back the new system from Chancellor Philip Hammond in the budget, then it will be many of the “just about managing” that May came to power promising to help that will suffer the most.