Spending Review lost opportunity to reform ‘brutal rollout’ of Universal Credit

The Chancellor has been accused of failing to tackle complaints that thousands of people are suffering from the “brutal rollout” of Universal Credit benefits.

Campaign groups have warned that the five-week wait for the payment was causing hardship for families amid calls for it to be reformed.

Emma Revie (pictured), chief executive of the Trussell Trust, which runs hundreds of food banks across the country, said: “This Spending Review was a lost opportunity. As the country looks to the future, we need our Government to put policy ahead of politics.

“Increasing living costs, inadequate benefit levels, and the five-week wait for Universal Credit are all leaving people without enough money in their pockets for the most basic costs.

“It’s no surprise we’re seeing the highest level of need for food banks ever.

“Our benefits system must be able to offer vital protection to people in uncertain times, yet there was little mention of how households on low incomes will stay afloat as Brexit unfolds.

“It was particularly disappointing to see no action on the five-week wait for Universal Credit – we know this is pushing people to the doors of food banks.

“It’s not inevitable that food bank use will continue to increase – there are steps we can, and must, take as a country.

“First, our Government must end the five-week wait for Universal Credit. More broadly, if we want our benefits system to be able to offer crucial support, we must also see benefit levels restored to make the cost of living affordable.”

In his response to the Spending Review, shadow chancellor John McDonnell told the Commons: “Does the Chancellor have any words for the thousands suffering from the brutal rollout of Universal Credit?

“Traditionally the Spending Review concentrates on Department Expenditure Limits rather than social security, but there is no reason why the Chancellor couldn’t have signalled the Government’s intent – at least – to end the misery and hardship their policy is causing.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) The Trussell Trust.