The announcement on Saturday (September 28) that a Labour government will abolish the ‘cruel and miserable’ Universal Credit (UC) system has been warmly welcomed by Unite.
Unite has been campaigning for the reform of the system since its inception but given its manifold problems and the human suffering it led to, switched to calling for its end.
UC is meant to streamline six existing welfare payments into one, but Unite said that the introduction has been ‘inherently flawed’ resulting in unacceptable delays, the soaring use of food banks and some claimants becoming suicidal.
Unite head of community Liane Groves said, “The announcement today by the Labour party is to be warmly welcomed. Unite has been campaigning ceaselessly in recent years to see the end of UC which will affect up to seven million people in and out of work if it is fully rolled out.
“The system is inherently flawed as it makes people wait five weeks without any money coming in,” she added. “People, desperate to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, are plunged into a sea of debt from which they can never escape. This state-sponsored despair must cease.
“This announcement from the Labour party is a beacon of hope for tens of thousands of people whose lives have been made a misery by the cruel and flawed implementation by Tory ministers hell-bent on their austerity agenda, whatever the human cost.
“While the details of what an incoming Labour government will replace UC with are still to be refined, it should be based on the principles of social justice and the objective of ending poverty, including immediate steps to give relief to those struggling and a commitment to develop a replacement to UC in the first few months of a Labour government,” Groves went on to say.
“Any new welfare system should have an individual’s personal circumstances as the priority and not the current tick-box assessments which have been pockmarked by unacceptable delays which have driven some claimants to the brink of suicide.”
Earlier this month, Unite issued a ‘bombshell’ report and survey of nearly 1,200 Universal Credit claimants by the union’s Community section which laid bare the misery of the scheme’s failed introduction with evidence of people becoming suicidal, going without food, being forced into debt and unable to pay bills.
The survey of 1,173 Universal Credit claimants found that 70 per cent had skipped meals and 42 per cent had been forced to use a food bank as result of claiming Universal Credit.