Steve McCabe, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, is calling on Work & Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd MP to reduce the waiting time for people claiming Universal Credit to 2 weeks, as latest figures from foodbank charity The Trussell Trust show an almost 20% increase in usage on last year.
Steve is a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee who are closely scrutinising the government on the rollout of Universal Credit. In their October 2017 Report, the Committee recommended that the government reduce the waiting time for Universal Credit from 6 weeks to 4, but the government only reduced the waiting time to 5 weeks.
However, the Birmingham MP is now calling on the government to go much further and reduce the waiting time to 2 weeks.
New data shows that during the past year one million, five hundred and eighty three thousand, six hundred and sixty eight (1,583,668) emergency three-day food supplies were given to people in crisis in the UK; more than half a million of these (577,618) went to children; an astonishing 18.8% increase on the previous year. The common factor seems to be that demand rises in areas where Universal Credit is extended.
In Steve’s constituency, Birmingham Selly Oak, between 1st April 2018 and 31st March 2019 ten thousand, three hundred and sixty (10,360) emergency three-day food supplies were given to local people in crisis with 4,085 of these going to children.
The Trussell Trust found the main reasons for people needing emergency food are benefits consistently not covering the cost of living (33%), delays or changes to benefits being paid and the 5 week wait pushing families into poverty. The Government seriously needs to consider the impact these delays are having on those facing hardship.
Steve McCabe MP said,
“The government need to face the facts. Delays to Universal Credit are pushing people into poverty and forcing more and more people to rely on food banks. Our benefits system should be there to protect people from poverty but expecting anyone to wait 5 weeks with no money while they have rent to pay and a family to feed is just not acceptable. No one at work is expected to wait up to 5 weeks to get paid, in fact many people in work on lower incomes are used to being paid weekly.
“The government need to drastically reduce the waiting time, ideally back to 2 weeks, so people have a fighting chance of staying clear of debt and rent arrears. This is a clear political choice, there is no reason why it takes 5 weeks to process a claim for Universal Credit”