TUC response to Social Security Advisory Committee's

Author
Report type
Consultation response
Issue date
17 Sep 2018
Key findings

The TUC calls for the roll out of UC to be stopped and for a fundamental rethink of the policy.

Our recommendations include:

  • Reversing the cuts to the work allowance in full, scrapping the unfair ‘two child’ policy and the removing the first child premium. The cap on benefit uprating must also be lifted.  
  • Speeding up UC payments. Claimants need money for essentials such as food and rent. To help them budget, claimants should be able to request to receive UC on a two-week basis. In addition, all claimants should be able to have their benefit paid directly to landlords when they receive UC.
  • There needs to be a recognition that not everyone gets paid monthly, so the monthly assessment period may not work for them. This is similar for those in insecure work with fluctuating incomes, so flexibility with rigid monthly assessment periods may be required.  
  • To ensure continued eligibility for passported benefits for those with fluctuating incomes, a three- month average income could be considered.   
  • If the aim of UC is to make work pay, the taper rate needs to be revisited. And second earners, who are often women, should be entitled to a work allowance too.
  • In addition, there needs to be a process of splitting payments between recipients within the same household, which would reduce women’s financial dependence on their partners.
  • The implementation of the Minimum Income Floor for the self-employed should be reconsidered, as this could close businesses with the potential to become sustainable and profitable. In addition, these rules could discourage people from starting self-employment. 
  • In-work conditionality should include proposals that guarantee claimants who work short hours because their employer will not offer them additional hours will not be sanctioned.

On managed migration

  • There are fundamental issues with the design and delivery of UC which need to be addressed before further roll out can be considered.
  • The Department should learn from past experiences of changes to the benefits system, rather than repeat the hardship experienced by large numbers of low income families due to a failure to take their needs into account.
  • The Department should consider how claimants could be automatically transferred onto UC.
  • The Secretary of State must in advance of the deadline day, satisfy themselves that the termination of existing benefits will not cause undue or unnecessary hardship to the claimant or to members of the claimant’s household.
  • To consider the proposal for making a speedy payment – during the first assessment period, using the ‘UC methodology’ for what would have been the previous assessment period.
  • To reconsider how transitional protection will work, some claimants are unfairly losing this protection.
  • Regular data on the roll out of UC needs to be published by the DWP, alongside regular assessments of the impact of the roll out on claimants (including equality impacts). 

Download full TUC response (PDF)

We appreciate the opportunity to respond to the SSAC consultation on the Government’s proposals for managed migration of Universal Credit. The introduction of Universal Credit (UC) is one of the most significant social security reforms in recent decades. And the managed migration of around 3 million claimants holds significant challenges.  

The TUC believes that UC based on its current design, and on the experience of the roll out so far, is not ready for the next phase of managed migration. It is fair to say that the roll out of UC has been shambolic. Warning after warning about the new system has been ignored. And the TUC has repeatedly called for the roll out of UC to be stopped and for a fundamental rethink of the policy.

The problems with UC are well documented; difficulties in registering a UC claim online, excessive payment delays, housing arrears, financial hardship and increased use of foodbanks. And it is not just the delivery of UC; there are serious issues with the design and the policy of UC embedded within the new system. This includes the rigidity of the monthly assessment periods not working for all claimants, financial cuts to UC which have made it less generous than the previous system, questions on the notion of ‘making work pay’, and the lack of detail on how in-work conditionality will work in practice.   

A wide range of other organisations also raise issues and concerns on UC.