Labour has said it could scrap the Tories’ disastrous Universal Credit (UC) welfare reform as the party launches a year-long review of the benefits system.
Speaking before her speech at the Labour Party conference today (September 24), shadow minister for work and pensions Margaret Greenwood said she is “looking into” ditching the scandal-hit scheme, saying “we’re not ruling anything out”.
UC, which has been hit by years of set-backs and has left many people destitute and relying on food banks because of delays in payments, is just part of Labour’s review into completely overhauling the Tories’ “toxic” welfare system.
Greenwood told the Mirror the review will consider how to “change the narrative” of the benefits system from “punishment to support”.
She said, “I meet a lot of people in their middle years who say ‘I can’t face going to the Jobcentre because I find it too humiliating’.
“Well that’s absolutely wrong, because those people have worked 20, 30 years, they’re entitled to get support.
“They shouldn’t be made to feel that somehow there’s a stigma attached to them.
“If you talk to people working in the social security system at the moment, I’ve had it described to me as the circle of hell.”
As well as potentially ditching UC, Greenwood said Labour plans to end the benefits freeze by connecting payment rates to inflation and make the sanctions regime much fairer.
She also said it was her “ambition” to stop private firms from carrying out tests for disability benefits.
Head of Unite Community Liane Groves said, “For years Universal Credit has been hit by delays and scandals, wasting millions upon millions of tax payer pounds and causing misery for families across the country.
“It’s right that Labour is looking at how to overhaul this disaster of an initiative and to fix an often cruel and arbitrary benefits system that after years of Tory attacks is not fit for purpose.
“Unite has long campaigned for an alternative to the Conservative policies of punishing people who need help while turning a blind eye to the richest few’s myriad ways of avoiding paying their fair share.
“Labour is the only party that has the will and vision to achieve a fair benefits system and an economy that works for everyone, rather than just those at the top.”