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Minister to face rare joint Lords and Commons select committee questions on failure to reform Universal Credit

Monday 8 March 2021

On Tuesday 9 March the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee and the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee will hold a rare joint evidence session on Universal Credit.

This cross-house, cross-party committee evidence session follows the Government’s disappointing response to both committees’ recent reports on Universal Credit.

At 3pm, the committees will take evidence from Will Quince MP, Minister for Welfare Delivery at the Department for Work and Pensions. He will be accompanied by Neil Couling, Senior Responsible Owner at the Department for Work and Pensions.

This evidence session will be held remotely and streamed on Parliament TV.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, Chair of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, said:

“Our cross-party, evidence-based report concluded that Universal Credit in its current form fails to provide a dependable safety net and called on the Government to reform it.

“The Government’s response to our report failed to engage with many of the ideas we proposed for reforming Universal Credit. That’s why we’re taking this unprecedented step of working with a Commons select committee to push the Government to provide answers to the substantial problems that we identified in our respective reports, in order to better protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee, said:

“The flaws in the Universal Credit system, particularly problems caused for some people by the wait for a first payment and the hardship it can cause, have long been highlighted by many, both inside and outside of Parliament. Sadly, the Government has failed to engage with constructive proposals for change—and refuses even to do its own research to find out the impact of its policies. We hope that this rare joint session of Commons and Lords committees will lead to a change in the Government’s approach and that Ministers will start to take note of the strength of the arguments to reform UC to make sure it works as a safety net for all.”

The topics that are likely to be covered in the evidence session include:

  • The extension of the £20 increase to Universal Credit
  • Lack of additional support for legacy benefit claimants
  • Starter payments to alleviate hardship during the five-week wait
  • Link between the wait for Universal Credit’s first payment and rising food bank use
  • Historic tax credit debt
  • The monthly assessment and frequency of payments
  • Support for vulnerable claimants
  • Balancing the use of sanctions as a deterrent and the claimant’s security of income

In July 2020 the Lords Economic Affairs Committee published its report, 'Universal Credit isn't working: proposals for reform'. Read the Government’s response to it.

In October 2020 the Commons Work and Pensions Committee published its report, 'Universal Credit: the wait for a first payment'. Read the Government’s response to it.

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