Have you heard about universal credit? If you are in the UK and haven’t heard of it, bad you.
You have to know the UK benefit system, simple terms, to claim 6 different benefits, you have to go through six different systems and departments, these departments don’t talk to each other and the systems don’t “speak” to each other. Except at times they do, then they don’t. Then they might, it is a massive massive minefield and a sure way to make you crazy. The other problem is the payments, you get the payments at different times, on different weeks.
One politician had an idea, which was lets put these systems and departments together, lets make it one sum a month, so people know how much they are getting. I am going to say now this is a fantastic idea, make it simple for people, if you have a change of circumstance you don’t have to phone God knows how many people, spending God knows how long on the phone paying God knows how much a minute.
The problem started right at the start, the computer system, was not tested properly, I have no idea, how it passed the most basic of tests is beyond me. It was delayed for, I believe 18 months, and not only that, it went beyond budget, we are not talking a couple of hundred. 12 Billion pounds and that number is still going up. Especially now, but more on that in a minute.
So in terms of roll out, not going very well, then the problem for the people. It takes 6 weeks to issue a claim, that means from the time you get your last payment till the time you get a universal credit payment you get sweet fa. Keep in mind that most people on benefits live from hand to mouth, so can’t really afford to save up to keep them going for six weeks. This wouldn’t include any problems that might happen. So people are resorting to payday loans, not paying any bills including their rent, meaning eviction proceedings are started. Many families are having to resort to food banks.
Yet they kept rolling it out to other areas, and this wasn’t like it wasn’t flagged up when it was first started in Newcastle, everyone said this is not going to work. And it hasn’t, on a side note to this, I heard on the news this morning, that crime is on the up, no one knows why. They mentioned a few things, but nothing about the fact people have no money to live on for 6 weeks.
Yesterday MPs voted to pause the roll out of universal credit till things can be fixed. Keep in mind the government have been forcing this through for 7 years. 299 voted for the pause. 0 voted against, a large amount of conservative MPs abstained, meaning that universal credit is going to take longer and cost more, but it does mean that maybe, just maybe, those that were about to be effected before Christmas might now have some money to be able to get a few presents.