MP says Universal Credit will be ‘Christmas catastrophe’

John Mann MP says Universal Credit will mean Christmas hardship for Bassetlaw families.
John Mann MP says Universal Credit will mean Christmas hardship for Bassetlaw families.

Bassetlaw MP John Mann has added his voice to calls for a delay to the introduction of Universal Credit over fears that changes to benefits could hit families at Christmas.

He raised the issue with Secretary of State for Work and Pensions David Gauke in a ministerial questions session on Monday, October 9.

Universal Credit is the biggest change ever made to the benefits system, and is being rolled out across the country in stages - but MPs and the Citizens Advice Bureau say it has problems which are putting families at financial risk.

John said: “If Universal Credit is introduced on December 14 in my constituency, in my view that’s indecent and should be delayed. It will be a catastrophe at Christmas.

“As the Secretary of State believes the opposite, will he join me the week after, in the run up to Christmas, and visit my constituents and see whether he’s right or I’m right and what the impact will be.”

The minister replied: “I visit Jobcentres all the time and what I hear is that Universal Credit is providing a more personalised support and is helping get more people into work.

“Those who get in the way of it are failing to help the people who need support.”

In some cases, there is a six week wait period before Universal Credit recipients receive their first payment.

Speaking after the session, John said: “The Bassetlaw foodbank have told me they already can’t keep up with demand and are dreading the arrival of Universal Credit. We are entering into new territory that is extremely worrying.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The majority of claimants are paid in full and on time, and are comfortable managing their money. Support is available for anyone who needs it.”