date: 22 November 2012
embargo: For immediate release
Responding to today's (Thursday) report on Universal Credit by the Work and Pensions Select Committee, which warns that the new benefits system could push low-income families into debt, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
'The concerns raised over Universal Credit in this report must not be ignored. It is deeply disturbing that some local authorities are already warning that the new monthly payment system could force some low-income families to turn to pay-day loan companies and loan sharks in an attempt to get by.
'Ministers must also ensure that vulnerable people can access the new system. Moving the claims process entirely online seems like another potential recipe for disaster that could leave many applicants unsure about how to apply for their payments. Universal Credit is supposed to be about simplifying the benefits system not making it more complicated.
'With households struggling to make ends meet as a result of the government's ongoing tax credit and benefit cuts, botched delivery could mean that Universal Credit just makes this situation even worse. The best way to help low-income and vulnerable households would be to reverse the damaging cuts that are already forcing thousands into even deeper poverty. '
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Issued: 22 November, 2012