Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Esther McVey: Universal Credit, an “agile, adaptable system, fit for the 21st century.”

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Image result for esther mcvey cartoon universal credit

Esther McVey hails universal credit scheme as ‘great British innovation’, days after scathing watchdog report.


Since it is exceptional that the  The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  Ms Esther McVey  takes time off from her busy schedule to do her Ministerial job trather than the press reports  it is worth looking at the full statement she made today in the House of Commons in Hansard.

Universal Credit and Welfare Changes

It includes this:

Today, I am updating the House on the changes we have made to UC as a result of this iterative approach we are taking. That is why last autumn we abolished the seven waiting days from the application process; we put in place the two-week housing benefit run-on to smooth the transition for an applicant moving to UC from the previous system; we ensured that advance payments could be applied for from day one of the application process, for up to 100% of a person’s indicative total claim; and we extended the recovery period for these advances to 12 months. Extra training was given to our work coaches to embed these changes.

Prior to that, we also changed the UC telephone lines to a freephone number to ensure ease of access for claimants enquiring about their claim. Earlier this year we reinstated housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds, and ensured that kinship carers are exempt from tax credits changes. Just last week, we announced changes to support the severely disabled when they transition on to UC; within our reforms, we want to ensure that the most vulnerable get the support they need. These proactive changes were made to enhance our new benefits system.


Let me turn to the report on universal credit published last week by the National Audit Office, which did not take into account the impact of our recent changes. Our analysis shows that universal credit is working. We already know that it helps more people into work, and to stay in work, than the legacy system. Universal credit has brought together six main benefits, which were administered by different local and national Government agencies. Once fully rolled out, it will be a single, streamlined system, reducing administration costs and providing value for money for all our citizens. The cost per claim has already reduced by 7% since March 2018 and is due to reduce to £173 by 2024-25—around £50 less per claim than legacy cases currently cost us to process.

Beyond the timespan of the NAO report, we have greatly improved our payment timeliness: around 80% of claimants are paid on time, after their initial assessment period. Where new claims have not been paid in full and on time, two thirds have been found to have some form of verification outstanding. Verification is a necessary part of any benefits system and citizens expect such measures to be in place. We need to ensure that we pay the right people the right amount of money.

As opposed to the wrong people the wrong money…..

Turning her face resolutely to the gales The Rt Hon MInister  ends on a note of defiance:

In conclusion, we are building an agile, adaptable system, fit for the 21st century. We want people to reach their potential, regardless of their circumstances or background, and we will make changes, when required, to achieve that ambition. I commend this statement to the House.

Labour’s Margaret Greenwood (Wirral West) (Lab) replied saying notably,

The Secretary of State says that universal credit is based on leading-edge technology and agile working practices. However, the National Audit Office report says that 38% of claimants were unable to verify their identity online and had to go to a jobcentre to do so. It makes no sense to accelerate the roll-out of universal credit at the same time as rapidly closing jobcentres. The NAO report reveals that a significant number of people struggle to make and manage their claim online. The Department for Work and Pensions’ own survey found that nearly half of claimants are unable to make a claim online unassisted, and that a fifth of claims are failing at an early stage because claimants are not able to navigate the online system.

The Government claim that the introduction of universal credit will result in 200,000 more people finding long-term work than under legacy benefits. They repeatedly cite evidence from 2014-15, but that was before the cuts to work allowances were introduced and covers only single unemployed people without children. If one looks at the range of claimants in areas where universal credit has been rolled out, there is no evidence that it is helping more people find long-term work. Delays in payments are pushing people into debt and rent arrears on such a scale that private and even social landlords are becoming increasingly reluctant to rent to universal credit claimants.

The NAO report also points out that 20% of claimants are not being paid in full and on time, and more than one in 10 are not receiving any payment on time. The people who are most at need from the social security system are the ones most likely to have to wait for payments. A quarter of carers, over 30% of families who need support with childcare and, most shockingly of all, two thirds of disabled people are not being paid in full and on time. The report points out that the Department does not expect the time limits of the payments to improve over the course of this year, and that it believes that it is unreasonable for all claimants to expect that they will be paid on time because of the need to verify each claim. Does the Secretary of State find the expectations of her own Department acceptable? She has made some claims that things have improved greatly since the closure of the report, so will she substantiate that by putting that information in the Library?

The impact of universal credit on some of our most vulnerable people is clear. Universal support is supposed to help people, but funding is severely limited and provision is patchy. What assessment has the Secretary of State made of it? Is she satisfied that her Department is doing enough to support people who are struggling?

Universal credit was supposed to offer personalised support to claimants, but stressed and overloaded staff are often failing to identify vulnerable claimants. The DWP is aiming to increase the workloads of work coaches fourfold and of case managers nearly sixfold as the Government try to cut the cost of universal credit still further.

The NAO is very clear that the DWP should not expand universal credit until it is able to cope with business as usual. The Government must now listen to the NAO, stop the roll-out of universal credit, and fix the flaws before any more people are pushed into poverty by a benefit that is meant to protect them from it. Universal credit is having a devastating impact on many people and will reach 8.5 million by 2024-25. The Secretary of State must now wake up to the misery being caused by her policy.

In her response McVey relied on the DWP alternative facts service,

Please allow me, Mr Deputy Speaker, to mention some of the real people I have met and spoken to and what they are saying about universal credit. Shafeeq, who was homeless, got an advance that got him temporary accommodation and put him in a better place to look for work. He said it

“helped me out a great deal and I’d have been lost without it”.

He is now in a job. Lisa said an advance payment helped her to secure a place with a childcare provider. She is paying it back over 12 months, which she says means a great deal to her. Gemma, a lone parent, said,

“it’s amazing being able to claim nearly all my childcare costs back, it’s a real incentive to go out to work – I’m going to be better off each week”.

Ben in Devon had a work coach, who helped him to progress in work from day one. Ryan from Essex had a lack of work experience and confidence, and his work coach helped him through universal credit. I will end it there—with the people receiving the benefit.

This gem should not go unnoticed,

I thank my right hon. Friend for her statement. The NAO report is, to be frank, a shoddy piece of work. It has simply failed—[Interruption.] Genuinely; anyone who reads it—I do not know if anyone on the Opposition Benches has bothered—will realise that it fails to take account of a series of issues, not the least of which are that the Treasury signed off annual recurring savings of £8 billion and, more importantly, that the changes last November and December have made a huge difference to people’s lives. I urge her to carry on and to tell the Public Accounts Committee to ask the question: who polices this policeman? This piece of work does it no credit at all. Will she now apply her efforts to universal support to make sure that every council area delivers the extra bit that is supposed to go alongside universal credit?

Obvious a well-shoddy copper, these uncreditworthy types behind the NAO.

Esther smiles, smirks and simpers,

My right hon. Friend has done more than most people in the House to support people into work, and I thank him for his question. He emphasises the point about universal support—the £200 million for local councils—to help people with debt management and IT. That is one thing we are definitely doing. Equally, he raises an important point about the NAO report. I am sure that Opposition Members have not read it. It does not say stop the roll-out; it says continue with the roll-out and do it faster. Please read about stuff before talking about it!

Wise advice!

To further Parliamentary questions  the Rt Hon continues in this vein (various McVey replies).

“We have said quite clearly that this report is out of date and does not take into account the significant changes that we have made.”

“Genuine people who get support from work coaches are saying, “It has transformed our lives.””

“I invite the hon. Lady to visit a jobcentre and meet the coaches in her area to see how revolutionary this process is.”

“The hon. Lady should stop scaremongering. “

 “Darren from Wales, who was put on a confidence course—we were utilising our flexible support fund—said:“My…work coach was fantastic…helped me turn my life around…fulfilling a lifelong dream”.”

 If anybody has been made homeless through this, I will meet them.

“Think about technology, automation and people online—the world has changed. We have to deal with the gig economy, with flexible working hours, with part-time and multiple jobs, and with the difference in working life for people who have caring responsibilities for children and adults. That is what this system takes into account; the legacy system could not do that.”

Please look sometimes at the positive news and help your constituents a little bit more by focusing them on that additional support.

“It was lovely listening to my hon. Friend—my learned friend, who knows so much about technology—because those words needed to be heard. As I said, this is at the leading edge of technology. Great Britain is leading the way. Countries that are coming to see us range from Sweden to the United States, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Canada, Cyprus, France and Denmark. They all want to know how it works to take it back home to their countries.”

“I thank the right hon. Gentleman for mentioning work coaches in such a positive way, because they are doing a significant amount of work, and I hear only praise wherever I go. “

we have provided significantly more money for the most vulnerable, particularly for those with disability and health conditions. We want to support people into work and reduce poverty.”

If you are too exhausted after this long bout of stout denial just look at this:

We have said that the NAO report sadly was out of date and therefore has not taken into account all the changes that have been made. That is unfortunate, because it means that the report is not a true reflection of what is happening. It is unfortunate that the hon. Gentleman was not here for the statement, but if he reads it in Hansard tomorrow, he will have his answers on how well the system is working.

Reactions are now pouring in:
Frank Field, the chair of the Commons work and pensions committee, said: “Rather than that banal offering, which did nothing for our poorest constituents, a more realistic statement from the secretary of state would have acknowledged that universal credit is helping to transform the welfare state from one which protects people from poverty, to one that drives them into destitution.”


Written by Andrew Coates

June 21, 2018 at 3:34 pm

28 Responses

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  1. Wow. Unbelievable horse shit from Smith & McVey. If it’s all going so great how come there’s half a million people using foodbanks?


    June 21, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    • There are many complex reasons why people use foodbanks..

      DWP Spokesperson

      June 21, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      • well it is because they have no money and the reason why they have no money is complex as its called universal credit.


        June 21, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    • The number of people using food banks has increased exponentially every year since 2010. Despite having the lowest unemployment for forty years and more people in work than ever before the number of people using food banks has NEVER peaked, NEVER fallen, and only ever INCREASED since 2010 under the coalition and now Tory minority government.

      Somebody should ask Esther to explain why that is happening if everything is so rosy.


      June 22, 2018 at 7:35 am

  2. Reblogged this on BertieS.


    June 21, 2018 at 7:33 pm

  3. Work Coaches get more training and that people talk about them with renewed enthusiasm.

    They do here so that part is true.


    June 21, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    • Anybody ever met a Work Coach that seems to know what they are doing? Mostly they just robotically check to see if people are doing enough Work Search and sticking to the letter of their Claimant Commitment, raising a doubt and sanctioning them if they reckon not, type in any changes of circumstances and sundry information into their system and refer people for low-quality low-paid part-time work, which they consider “better than nothing”, even though after costs are considered, e.g.,train/bus tickets, the person doing such work will be no better off thanks to the Universal Credit taper.

      The main purpose of the Work Coach is to police the regime and push people into work.

      It’s not rocket science.


      June 22, 2018 at 7:42 am

      • Yes we certainly are being policed aren’t we by the (((CHEKA))).


        June 22, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    • THEY have infiltrated, THEY have subverted, now THEY are biding their time for the final takeover!


      June 22, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      • The Red Circle.

        Garry H.

        June 22, 2018 at 4:43 pm

      • There’s no such thing, you’re just spreading Rightwing anti-Socialist propaganda aimed at undermining the Left, therefore you must be either a Tory or a member of Progress.


        June 23, 2018 at 5:29 pm

  4. Universal Credit casualties plead for help and food in London


    Irate WASPI

    June 21, 2018 at 9:34 pm

  5. The man who was fired by a machine


    Just think, when article 11 and 13 of the copyright bill go into regulation, we will never be able to converse like this again unless Andrew pays for the license and or can afford this recognition software that will prevent posters from getting around not using links by quoting passages from the news.


    June 22, 2018 at 12:09 am

  6. ‘Find a job’ : Legal requirement to give DWP access

    The DWP holds no recorded information about DWP access to Find a job or provide print offs, which is DWP-speak for: claimants do not have to give coachy access or print-offs, etc. Which is what we all knew all along!

    So anyone reading this: next time coachy says you have to give them access, then just calmly stick this FoI request under their snouts.

    jj joop

    June 22, 2018 at 10:24 am

    • It’s good; it’s all good.

      jj joop

      June 22, 2018 at 10:28 am

  7. Tories like Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVey don’t care about the criticism of Universal Credit.
    This extra cruelty to claimants was always going to be controversial.
    As far as they are concerned, they are doing the right thing. Scrapping an old benefit system which allowed people to stay out of work. Replacing it with a new system, that forces people back into work.

    Jeff Smith

    June 22, 2018 at 4:41 pm

  8. McVey & Duncan Smith, the Batman & Robina of welfare.


    June 22, 2018 at 4:47 pm

  9. DWP slammed for asking writer to help ’empower’ women into paid work… without paying her

    She was asked to be part of the Her Way campaign, which aims to showcase “routes into employment” and “empower” women to “craft their own future” in work.

    she was told: “Unfortunately, we can’t pay contributors – but would see it taking only a few hours of your time.”



    June 22, 2018 at 7:07 pm

  10. Fit for work’ assessor suspended for describing examination that did not take place

    An occupational therapist who carried out a “misleading” benefit assessment has been suspended for a year after regulators found she reported carrying out a physical examination of a disabled man that did not take place.

    Paru Vekaria has shown no remorse over the incident, in which she stated in a written report for government contractor Maximus that she had carried out a detailed physical examination of the claimant.



    June 22, 2018 at 7:15 pm

  11. ID verification on UC

    Jack the hat McVitie in drag (McVey) said the other day ID verification is slowing the processing so im giving a shout out to see if any claimants crossing over onto UC or even new claimers (first timers) are experiencing this very problem. If you have no personal experience of encountering this problem directly but know someone who has or is then do entice them to post here so we can collect some data and slam this door shut and thus prevent DWP using it as an excuse.


    If you’ve been directly impacted from making a claim on the grounds of ID verification, please post below your story.



    June 23, 2018 at 9:48 am

    • What happens if you haven’t got photo identification like a passport or driving license? I believe that the online verification system only works if you have items like this with numbers attached that can be checked against a central database. How can you establish your identity online without such items?


      June 23, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      • This happened earlier this year,

        “Hundreds of thousands of benefits claimants could be unable to register for the new Universal Credit (UC) digital service because of problems using the government’s online identity system Gov.uk Verify, according to new figures that show barely a third of UC users successfully use Verify.”


        This is yesterday:(22nd of June)

        “Jenny Lewis has never owned a passport or a driving licence – and it meant she had to wait months to receive her benefit money.

        The documents are needed to apply for Universal Credit online but Jenny said cars and holidays are luxuries she cannot afford.

        Delays in her application left her “degraded” and looking for food.

        The UK government said “arrangements are in place” to support people who cannot apply online.

        “The system is terrible, it’s stupid – if you can’t afford to go abroad you’re not going to get a passport, if you can’t afford a car you’re not going to get a driving licence,” said Jenny, from Newport.

        Staff at the Pobl Group, which provides care, support and housing in the Newport area, said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is wrong to believe most people will have a passport, driving licence or even access to the internet.

        They believe only around a third of people are registering for Universal Credit online and it is causing a backlog for face-to-face appointments.”

        Kath Hopkins, Moneysaver Project Officer with the Pobl Group, said the “vast majority” cannot apply online.

        “Most people on low incomes don’t have photographic identification,” she said.

        “Why would you have a passport or driving licence – you can’t go on holiday, you can’t afford to buy a car.

        “Without that you can’t go through the online process and we’re finding that as an advice organisation we haven’t been able to help one single person verify their identification online”.

        She added: “Some people have been going to high cost lenders, and some people have been going to loan sharks because of this delay”.

        There is concern that this delay is in addition to other delays in the Universal Credit system. It can take more than a month to receive your first payment after submitting an application.

        The issue was raised recently in the House of Commons by Newport East MP Jessica Morden, who called on ministers to review and speed up the process for initial Universal Credit claims.”


        Andrew Coates

        June 23, 2018 at 3:39 pm

  12. Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.


    June 23, 2018 at 5:01 pm

  13. Why are Londoners relying on food-banks and soup kitchens?

    Food bank usage is rising quickly, including among working people on unpredictable zero-hour contracts.

    I blame the government entirely as they are cheating the destitute, pushing people into debt.

    Louisa Haye, food-bank manager



    June 23, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    • And it’s not only London, it’s the same story everywhere in England. My local foodbank is struggling to cope with the demand. And there will be worse to come as they transfer everyone to Universal Credit over next couple of years. It’s going to be unprecedented chaos, poverty & suffering.


      June 24, 2018 at 9:32 am

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