Universal Credit 'discredited' in Dacorum, say Lib Dems

Lib Dem Councillors have warned of Universal Credit problems in Dacorum - if it's not amended before the policy is rolled out in the borough.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 4:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 5:21 pm

In a debate at Dacorum Council, Cllr Adrian England proposed the motion, urging a message to the Government Department.

Cllr England, speaking on Wednesday (January 22), said: “We as a council must do our part to help get to solutions.

"We know our community, so on behalf of the residents of Dacorum it’s right that we add our voice and say that UC in present form is not working as imagined, will work for our people - and needs further changes before it is rolled out to include Housing Benefit and Tax Credits transfers here in Dacorum.

Cllr Adrian England

"Under the old, multi-benefit system many faced a cliff edge, coming off benefits, where people would lose a big chunk of their benefits in one go as soon as they started working more than 16 hours.

"But the cliff edge hasn’t been re-moved – it has just been moved – and to a really hard place.”

Cllr England added that residents with the lowest income "stand to lose the most".

"As a major council-house landlord, Dacorum faces the full effect of the impact of UC on rent arrears if people lose control of their budgeting," he added.

His motion, which lost by 28 votes to 18, called for the council to express a constructive local view to the Department for Work and Pensions that key changes are required:

- An end to the 5-week wait and rigid imposition of monthly payments, on claimants used to weekly wages.

- UC to be paid to more than one person in a household, to prevent the risk of financial domestic abuse.

- End benefit sanctions – the Citizens; Advice Bureau says there is no evidence that sanctioning helps people into sustainable work.

- Allow all new claimants to apply for Universal Credit in job centres supported by trained job centre staff rather than forcing new claimants to apply on-line.

Leader of Dacorum Borough Council, Cllr Andrew Williams, speaking to the Gazette, said: “Some of the concerns around the implementation of Universal Credit were acknowledged but the motion was rejected because it was felt the appropriate way to raise the concerns was through the local MP rather than the motion as presented at Council.”