The one that hit the headlines was Labour’s Brexit policy, entwined with the attempted defenestration of Tom Watson and questions over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. But the other hot issue was Universal Credit. A groundswell of calls for UC to be scrapped was driven by stories from people who have been pulled into debt and hardship by design flaws like the minimum five week wait, unaffordable debt repayments and a service which many have found lacking in both justice and compassion.
For some on the left, ‘Universal Credit’ has become a symbol of everything that is wrong with our social security system – even though many of the biggest problems have been caused by separate policies, like the benefit freeze. It was widely expected that John McDonnell’s conference speech would include a commitment to scrap Universal Credit. The fact that he actually only restated Labour’s existing policy of stopping the rollout went unnoticed by many. Jeremy Corbyn’s speech was then expected to include the big bang UC abolition – but the Supreme Court bombshell would have buried policy announcements, so that didn’t happen either.
Finally, today, the announcement came. Or did it?
All the bad news stories about Universal Credit make it good politics to scrap it. But my worry was about what would come next. Millions caught up in the rising tide of poverty could be hit by yet more upheaval if Labour quickly introduced yet another system or reverted to the problematic patchwork of old benefits. Fortunately, the headline hides a more sensible approach.
SOURCE: Barnard, Helen. “‘Scrapping Universal Credit’ is good politics for Labour – but is it good policy?” Joseph Rowntree, 27th September 2019
See also: Related JRF content: JRF comments on Labour policy on Universal Credit
The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia