I have been contacted by many of my constituents about the wait for Universal Credit.
I am aware that the waiting period for a claimant's first Universal Credit payment can be up to six weeks, and I recognise this is leaving some families relying on food banks and their rent arrears spiralling out of control. Indeed, one survey of landlords responsible for 3,000 households on Universal Credit found that eight out of ten tenants were in arrears.
I share your concerns about these delays and the Government's management of Universal Credit. It is clear that people struggling to make ends meet cannot afford to wait for the Government to get Universal Credit right. It is failing to make work pay, pushing people further into rent arrears and leaving them vulnerable to eviction from private landlords.
I am also concerned about the issue of four-weekly payments, where claimants are being paid twice during one UC assessment period and are expected to re-apply for support the following month. Many claimants do not know they have to reapply, and it comes as an unpleasant surprise when they are refused support.
I believe the Government must get a grip on this failing project as a matter of urgency. It should start by reversing cuts to in-work support that will see some working families worse off by £2,600 a year. It should also immediately reduce the waiting time for Universal Credit and provide immediate access to hardship funds for families affected by delays.
The Opposition has committed to transform the social security system to ensure it is there for us all in our time of need. I can assure you I will continue to press for immediate action to reduce the waiting time for UC and for a full reversal of cuts to the work allowance of Universal Credit. Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views.