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Is the Universal Credit system fit to manage an unemployment crisis?

Does Universal Credit (UC) provide enough financial security for claimants? In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, has enough been done to help claimants keep a roof over their heads?

These are among the questions the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee will be asking two panels of witnesses on Tuesday 28 April 2020.
This will be the first time a House of Lords Select Committee holds a public evidence session which will have remote participation by witnesses and Committee members. The session will be streamed on Parliament TV.
The first session will begin at 3.35pm. Giving evidence will be:

  • Paul Gray, former Chair of the Social Security Advisory Committee
  • Gareth Morgan, Managing Director, Ferret Information Systems.

Questions the Committee is likely to ask include:

  • Can anything be done about the five-week wait to get money to people faster?
  • Has the benefits system been simplified by UC?
  • Does UC's conditionality regime do more harm than good?
  • Is UC's design entrenching debt amongst some claimants?
  • What are the basic principles behind the treatment of surplus earnings?

The second session will begin at 4.35pm. Giving evidence will be:

  • Cllr Victoria Mills, Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance and Brexit, Southwark Council
  • Sue Ramsden, Policy Leader, National Housing Federation.

Questions the Committee is likely to ask include:

  • Is the roll out of UC connected with the rise in homelessness?
  • UC's five-week wait is blamed for increased levels of rent arrears. How can this be resolved?
  • Do you agree with the evidence the Committee heard that paying rents directly to landlords increases the risk that claimants, once they move into work, will fail to pay their rent?
  • What are the main gaps in the support services that Government provides to claimants?
  • What financial impact has the roll-out of Universal Credit had on the wider social and supported housing sector?

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