Work, Benefits and Pensions

Benefits Freeze

Every year in April benefits get uprated. Things like: the state pension, Personal Independence Payments, disability premiums, if you have health conditions. 

But in 2016, the government decided that we needed a 4-year freeze on working age benefits. 

The Independent Group for Change believes that all policy should be evidence-based. And that that evidence needs to be reviewed regularly, especially when that policy affects the most vulnerable people in our society. 

And what we’ve seen is because of inflation and wage growth, people on working age benefits, universal credit, who are working but struggling to make ends meet – they just can’t afford to live on this basic level of benefits any more. 

And what’s even more unacceptable, that we’re just coming to the end now of the third year of that 4-year freeze, and government had a target to save £3.5bn. Now it’s already saved £4.4bn by the end of that third year, so we’re £900m ahead of our target. Plus in January we had the biggest budget surplus since records began in 1993, meaning more tax coming in than money we’re spending. 

Universal Credit

The introduction of Universal Credit (UC) for new claimants in Broxtowe is going well but only because of the work we have done to prepare for it. I want to thank Broxtowe Borough Council, the Citizens Advice Bureau and Job Centre Plus for their combined efforts, in no small part due to the meeting I convened earlier this year.

Broxtowe’s Citizen’s Advice has launched a service to support first time Universal Credit claimants. UC was introduced in Broxtowe at the end of last year for new claimants. Please contact Beeston CAB on 0115 917 3802 or Eastwood CAB on 01773 768 363 or my office on 0115 943 6507 if you need help with your claim.

However, I remain concerned about the actual workings of UC – so I will step up my campaigning work in Parliament to make sure the necessary changes are made. Locally, we have always had excellent voluntary and non – voluntary systems of support for people who fall on hard times or face unusually difficult circumstances. But there are “gaps” notably in Kimberley and filling that gap will be a priority in 2019.

Five Week Wait

If you are claiming Universal Credit that implies you are in immediate need, so I do not believe you should have to wait five weeks to receive payment.