As I am sure most people are now aware on Wednesday evening the Labour Party tabled a house of commons motion to pause universal credit, while the many issues, such as, and including claimants waiting too long for their first payment (upto six weeks, and more in some cases) are resolved. Not to mention the fact so many more people are worse off on universal credit and who've seen their amount of entitlement drop. The Labour amendment was won 299 - 0 with controversey surrounding the vote, as many witnessed the contempt held by the Conservative party who whipped their MP’s to abstain. However, the motion is none binding and the roll out of Universal Credit is likely to go ahead in spite of efforts from Labour.
Naturally if this government do accept the will of the house then the pause for Universal Credit should apply to all regions of the UK, as I am sure you’d agree.
However, in Northern Ireland the welfare reforms were enacted by a little know piece of legislation called the 'Welfare Reforms Northern Ireland Act 2015' which stipulates that reforms in England and Wales should be mirrored in Northern Ireland, albeit with a few minor exceptions.
Universal Credit in Northern Ireland is under the control and jurisdiction of the oddly named, Department for Communities (DfC). This may seem like a contradiction in terms to those unfamiliar with the business of Northern Ireland, but i can assure you, it is very real. We have a small matter of contention, that Northern Ireland doesn’t actually have a working executive or parliament owing to the main parties in Northern Ireland still have yet to get their act together to come to an agreement on the power sharing executive in Northern Ireland.
Read 'The Websters' article on Universal Credit by clicking this link
So, no executive to instruct government departments, means no parliament which means no representatives to challenge government policy. Imagine that you have elected MP’s but they can’t do their job and challenge policy and make laws. Scary thought isn't it. This is what we have to deal with in Northern Ireland.
One of the biggest issues with Universal Credit in Northern Ireland is to consider the amount of suicides that have been attributed to the welfare reforms in England and Wales, and then consider that Northern Ireland has the highest rates of suicides than all the regions of the UK including one of the highest rates in Europe. Then lump the mess that is Universal Credit on top of that and you might imagine the probable outcome.
The challenge now is that if government do decide to enact the will of the house (which some say it is inevitable) and pause Universal Credit then Northern Ireland must not be ignored and the same should apply here. We need your help to ensure Northern Ireland is not ignored or cast aside on this extemely important issue. The government must immediately halt the roll out of Universal Credit to contain the misery being caused by the disastrous mishandling of this programme.
Debbie Abrahams, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “The government’s flagship universal credit programme is in total disarray. It is unacceptable that one in four claimants are waiting more than six weeks to receive support, alongside mounting debts and arrears among recipients.
“I have written to the secretary of state requesting that he immediately halt the roll-out of universal credit to contain the misery being caused by the disastrous mishandling of this programme.”
Charities and politicians are urging the government to halt the roll-out of the controversial new benefit and for good reason. This government has chosen to offer tax handouts to the very wealthy few and large corporations rather than a hand up to the many of us who deserve a decent welfare system, there for us all in our time of need. Universal Credit is a disaster waiting to happen for hundreds of thousands of British people and far too close to the Christmas period. People will be left with absolutley nothing, and that includes children. This is cruelty on a scale only the Conservative party could dream up.
Please sign the petition in the link below (click here image) and share this article as much as you can to help in no small way to make this a reality. We absolutely must try and halt the roll out of Universal Credit to Northern Ireland.
Matt Beeching for Political Provocateur