In a series of articles, it has lobbied Theresa May to “save her legacy as prime minister by slashing the five-week wait for needy Brits on Universal Credit”, exposed how female claimants are turning to sex work to get by and exposed the numbers forced to turn to foodbanks.
Its campaign highlights three elements of Universal Credit (UC) requiring reform: The five week wait for first payment, calling for this to be reduced to two weeks "or force seven million into debt"; The work allowance, which they say should allow earners to keep 50 per cent of what they earn; Childcare costs need to be switched, they argue, from paid in arrears to paid up front.
It is a significant move as the paper has been seen as political kingmaker when it comes to swaying public opinion in elections. Reporting on the final six Tory leadership hopefuls, Jeremy Hunt was non-committal and Boris Johnson was absent from the debate. However, Sajid Javid commented on the responsiveness of the system and the need to reform the appeals process, while Dominic Raab and Michael Gove were more interested in the working poor and the links between UC and taxation.
Meanwhile, eighty welfare charities have lodged formal complaints against the DWP and its series of advertorial pages published in the Metro since May. Among other issues, they dispute the Department’s claim of an 80 per cent satisfaction rating among 6,000 UC claimants. The Disability Benefits Consortium found 70 per cent of their own, smaller survey reported they struggled to pay for food and a third (35%) were forced to go to foodbanks. A shocking 85 per cent said their mental health had deteriorated.
As reported in a previous article from the Quids In Professional Network, research conducted by foodbank network Trussell Trust found new claimants faced serious hardship. It is believed one in five struggle on account of delays and problems with their first payment. While this tallies with DWP’s claim of 80 per cent positive outcomes, it is unlikely that all of those not experiencing problems were happy about the new system. Trussell Trust's research also found 70 per cent struggled with debt in the first months they moved onto UC.
Read Quids in! editor, Jeff Mitchell’s blog on Universal Credit: The Baby and the Bath Water...