The APPG on Universal Credit is a cross-party group, which was established in order for Members of Parliament of all parties to be able to come together to discuss the experiences of their own constituents, to receive advice and support from various agencies, to share best practice at supporting constituents and monitor this critical policy as it is rolled out.
The APPG accepts the core aims of Universal Credit (UC) in simplifying the benefits system and making it easier for people to move into work. The reality of UC, however, does not live up to these good intentions. We are seriously concerned that the design of UC does not sufficiently take into consideration the specific needs of the poorest working age people in the UK, and that in its current form, UC does not work in their best interest.
On 31 October 2017, the APPG held its inaugural meeting. The following parliamentarians were present: Ruth George MP (Chair), Drew Hendry MP (Vice-Chair), Stephen Lloyd MP (Vice-Chair), Laura Pidcock MP (Vice-Chair), Liz McInnes MP, Julie Cooper MP, Bambos Charalambous MP, Yvonne Fovargue MP, Fiona Onasanya MP, Margaret Greenwood MP, Rosie Duffield MP.
Also present: Office of Kate Green MP, Office of Sharon Hodgson MP, Office of Heidi Allen MP, Office of Martin Whitfield MP, Office of Marsha de Cordova MP and Child Poverty Action Group.
The APPG elected the following Parliamentarians as Officers
|Vice Chair||Peter Aldous||Conservative|
|Vice Chair||Hugh Gaffney||Labour|
|Vice Chair||Stephen Lloyd||Liberal Democrat|
|Vice Chair||Drew Hendry||Scottish National Party|
|Vice Chair||Laura Pidcock||Labour|
The following concerns and recommendations were raised and made.
- STEPHEN LLOYD MP: The impact of arrears on the rental market – private landlords cannot cope with the delays.
- YVONNE FOVARGUE MP: Research conducted by the Association for Retained Council Housing shows that UC claimants are four times as likely to be behind on rent and are on average £443 in arrears.
- DREW HENDRY MP: Given growing concerns, Inverness will be holding a UC Summit, bringing together key statutory and voluntary groups. The rate Advance Payments need to be repaid is too fast for many.
- LIZ MCINNES MP: The issue of passported benefits, especially Free School Meals remains unresolved.
- JULIE COOPER MP: There needs to be a strong focus on the damage UC is doing to work incentives. For example, parents losing nursery places.
- FIONA ONASANYA MP: Councils need to be more joined up in their approach to support and protect residents as UC is rolled-out.
- BAMBOS CHARALAMBOUS MP: The issue of possession proceedings needs to be looked at more closely.
- LAURA PIDCOCK MP: A 4-week for UC is an improvement but still not enough to give families the help they need.
- MARGARET GREENWOOD MP: The APPG should focus on the impact on children and consider what is it we want our social security system to do.
- OFFICE OF HEIDI ALLEN: noted the need for better, more user-friendly UC statistics.
- CPAG: The APPG should look at the interaction between UC and the ‘legacy’ benefits system. This is a highly complex area and, for example, is leaving people who win ESA appeals worse off.
The APPG proposed the following evidence sessions and next steps
- The impact of Universal Credit on incomes. Possible witnesses: CPAG, Citizens Advice & Gingerbread.
- Housing in Universal Credit. Possible witnesses: Residential Landlords Association, Local Government Association, housing associations and The Trussell Trust.
The APPG will undertake an inquiry into UC, with the aim of submitting a report to Ministers ahead of the scheduled January 2018 pause in the roll-out.