Usdaw welcomes Universal Credit reforms … but says they do not go far enough

Usdaw has welcomed government reforms to Universal Credit, but the union says they are only a small step in the right direction and calls for a fundamental rethink, including a complete overhaul of a system that is broken and will not work.

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “The Secretary of State is right to identify that Universal Credit is not ‘effective’ or ‘compassionate’, but the small changes announced today will go nowhere near correcting that. There needs to be a fundamental rethink, a complete overhaul of the system and a reversal of the deeply damaging cuts that make life worse for millions of low-paid workers. It’s a system that doesn’t work in the real world and everyone knows it is broken.

“While it was introduced to ‘simplify the benefits system’ and ‘make work pay’, the basic premise of Universal Credit has been undermined by severe cuts, which means that many low-paid workers will be much worse-off when they are transferred onto it. Working families waiting to be migrated onto Universal Credit will take little comfort from today’s announcements unless the Government is prepared to go much further and make significant reforms. Tinkering at the edges is not good enough.”

Usdaw’s ‘Time for Better Pay’ campaign tackles the causes of in-work poverty and seeks to develop an economy where work pays. A survey of over 10,000 workers has laid bare the issues that working people are facing as a result of low pay, short and zero-hours contracts and insecure work.

Nearly one in four rely on in-work benefits and as only a small number are already on Universal Credit the government’s roll-out would have a significant impact. Based on this evidence the campaign is calling for four key actions:

• at least £10 per hour minimum wage.

• minimum contract of 16 hours per week for all employees who want it.

• the right to a contract based on an individual’s normal hours of work.

• an end to zero hour contracts.


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