After the shambolic roll-out of Universal Credit (flagship Tory Welfare policy) DWP Secretary Esther McVey announced new plans (at Tory Party Conference) for the government to partner up with the CAB to help advise claimants. Citizens Advice – a network of independent charities – is, of course, party political neutral. They have repeatedly raised alarming concerns over the roll-out of Universal Credit, and last year said its expansion was a “disaster waiting to happen” with claimants being pushed into further debt. Labour opposed the rushed roll-out and has repeatedly called on the government to ‘pause and fix’ the policy before it pushes more families into hardship.
Speaking on the new announced plans, Stephen Lloyd, now Lib Dem Welfare spokesperson, commented “this is more tinkering around the edges compared to the huge funding cuts and flawed design that have made the roll-out of the benefit such a disaster.” But Mr Lloyd hasn’t always been behind ensuring those in need of welfare support are adequately taken care of. Let’s remind ourselves of his voting record.
As Eastbourne’s MP between 2010 and 2015, Mr Lloyd consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices; he consistently voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability; he almost always voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits including supporting the Bed Room Tax. Most damaging, it was Mr Lloyd himself who voted to introduce Universal Credit.
At the Labour Conference last week, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Margaret Greenwood, pledged a review of Universal Credit to ensure that the next Labour government will deliver a welfare system that will not allow families and individuals to fall into hardship. The cost of the Tories failed policies can be measure by the impact on our communities. The Trussell Trust recently reported a 13% annual increase in three day food supplies. Issues with benefits continued to be the most common cause for the referrals. We need a welfare system that will offer genuine support to help people back into work whilst offering support to people when they need it. https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/trusselltrust-documents/Trussell-Trust-Left-Behind-2018.pdf
Note: Support for Claimants. Eastbourne CAB meets regularly with the Job Centre to try to avoid some of the pitfalls that claimants are facing. This arrangement has helped eased some of the difficulties locally. Eastbourne CAB now has a staff member who can help claimants who need support to make their application – an Assisted Digital Support drop in. Help is also available with budgeting. Please call 03444111444 for details: – http://www.eastbournecab.co.uk/