It appears to be designed, not to help people into worthwhile, high-paying work but to lock them into poverty by ensuring they never earn enough not to be penalised by the system – for failing to earn enough.
Iain Duncan Smith has claimed he may resign over George Osborne’s plan to grab cash from UC. This should be no surprise because the two have been enemies for years.
His departure would be welcome but would do nothing to end the suffering of the millions he has parked in benefit dependency – or the millions more to which Osborne intends to do the same.
It is unfortunate that Labour has not taken the opportunity to attack the very existence of Universal Credit, which has cost something like half a billion pounds, according to some commentators.
Meanwhile, Tories like Owen Paterson – of all people – have attacked Osborne’s plan, saying it “kills stone dead the narrative that we are on the side of people who work”.
Nice of him to admit that it was just a story. It also shows that the Tories have painted themselves into a corner:
If they cut tax credits, they attack people who work; if they change Universal Credit, they attack people who work. So ends the “narrative” of the Conservatives as the “party of the workers”.
A plan being considered by George Osborne to reduce the generosity of universal credit could cost some families more than £700 a year, Labour have said.
Owen Smith, the shadow work and pensions secretary, produced the figures in response to reports that Osborne is considering changing the taper rate that applies under universal credit in the hope of saving around £1.5bn a year.
Currently it is set at 65% – meaning that for every extra £1 claimants earn above a threshold, they lose 65p – but Osborne is looking at a proposal to increase this to 75%. He needs the money to help fund measures to reduce the impact of the tax credit cuts that were rejected by the House of Lords.
But raiding the universal credit budget is currently the subject of a fierce Whitehall battle because Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, wants to keep taper rates as they are.
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