Daniel Zeichner MP raised concerns over the roll-out of Universal Credit for new benefit claims. Daniel Zeichner’s intervention follows a report by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), published in March, on the impact of universal credit on family incomes, work incentives and poverty rates.
CPAG found that as a result of the cuts made to the universal credit, on average, couples with children will be £960 a year worse off on average and lone parent families will be £2380 a year worse off. Pensioner couples will be £40 a year worse off. The report also showed that rewards from work have been reduced considerably and, for single parents, the incentives to move into mini-jobs has been reduced by the work allowance cuts.
CPAG has made a series of recommendations to reduce poverty caused by the transition to universal credit. Applying a triple lock to the child element of universal credit could keep up to 500,000 children from poverty. Restoring work allowances could keep up to 300,000 children from poverty. Lifting the two-child limit could keep up to 200,000 children from poverty.
The Cambridge City Council area is due to transition in May 2018 and, according to the Children’s Society, the introduction of Universal Credit will impact 6,700 children in the city.
Research by the Children’s Society in January 2017 showed that, of the 20,106 children in Cambridge, nearly 4,000 live in poverty. 1,100 of these children live in working households where at least one person is in employment. 3,640 children in Cambridge lie in families suffering from debt problems.
Daniel Zeichner MP said: “The roll-out of Universal Credit is increasing poverty and inequality by removing incentives to work. Even though the Chancellor today announced a 2% cut in the taper rate from 65% to 63%, this will not help millions of families from avoiding the poverty trap.
“There is a year to go before Cambridge is due to transition to Universal Credit. Ours is already a city of two halves where many families struggle to make ends meet. I urge the Government to follow the advice of CPAG to protect children and provide better incentives to work.”
Josie Tucker, author of the CPAG report, said: “This analysis shows that Universal Credit cuts will hit families with children hardest, and will be poverty-producing to the tune of around a million children.”