• Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd was in the South West this week
  • Luke took the opportunity to comment on what her Universal Credit plans mean for Plymouth

Commenting on the visit of Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd MP to Plymouth, Luke said:

“I am very concerned at the cruel and needless consequences of the Government’s botched Universal Credit roll out. Although a group of people seem to be better off on UC there are far too many people suffering because of the poor design of Universal Credit in particular the five week wait period. This delay period and the loans offered by the Job Centre is pushing people into debt. I see more and more cases of people using foodbanks, more people falling into rent arrears, more people being forced to work when they’re not well enough to do so because of this Government’s cruel policies. More of Plymouth’s vulnerable people are having to navigate a confusing online system without little information, and so many more people coming to my office to tell me they are struggling to make ends meet.”

“This new pilot scheme of allowing Work Coaches to refer people with mental health conditions to some kind of support, without the need for a GP or clinical assessment, is a huge mistake. This makes mental health, substance abuse and domestic abuse support dependent upon a DWP claim. It completely circumvents the duty of care the GP has and proclaims avoiding clinical assessment

“I have raised issues with Universal Credit in the Commons and directly with Ministers and yet the roll out continues. UC is driving too many people into poverty and although there are some improvements, these come at huge cost for some of our city’s most vulnerable people.”

Commenting on domestic violence and Universal Credit, Luke said:

“When it comes to victims of domestic violence, the single payment structure of UC is still vulnerable to abuse by domestic violence perpetrators to gain immediate control over the entire household budget. While survivors may request split payments, just the act of asking for this can put them at serious risk of further abuse. Even when it is intended to reach the main carer of children, there is still no guarantee of protection and the main carer rule does nothing to protect women without children. The two-child limit on child-related benefits, the benefit cap, and the closure of the social fund is leading to increased financial hardship for those who have fled abuse. In too many cases this is leading to survivors questioning their decision to flee the abuser and being unable to make ends meet when they do.”

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