Islington Council to become first to call for Universal Credit to be scrapped
At the Full Council Meeting on 6th December 2018, Islington Labour Group will call for Universal Credit to be scrapped, and will declare that the shake-up to social security support has become “universally discredited.”
Approximately 4,000 Islington residents have already transitioned to Universal Credit, with over 22,000 ultimately set to move to the new single payment, which replaces six existing social security payments.
However, Universal Credit’s implementation has been beset with delays and the Tory Government has been forced to repeatedly alter how it works in response to outcries about its impact on people.
In Islington, estimates show that the majority of households who will eventually move to Universal Credit will be, on average, over £500 per year worse-off.
Shockingly, 75% of all people living in council homes in Islington that are in receipt of Universal Credit are in rent arrears, with the average arrears currently at £1,124 – eight times the average level of rent arrears for all council tenants.
It is also clear that Universal Credit is pushing more people into extreme poverty, with 44 referrals to local food banks specifically due to Universal Credit between June and September 2018.
Islington Council, under Islington Labour’s leadership, is committed to supporting local people affected by Universal Credit, and to helping prepare residents who will transition to it in the near future. The Council funds a variety of advice organisations to support local residents, as well as having its own Income Maximisation (IMAX) Team, which helps residents to ensure they are receiving the full support they are entitled to.
Last week, in recognition of the increasing number of applications from residents affected by Universal Credit to the Council’s Resident Support Scheme, the Council doubled the value of awards that can be made to help people with heating and food costs.
The Full Council motion has been submitted by Cllr Troy Gallagher (Bunhill), and will be seconded by Cllr Una O’Halloran (Caledonian). The motion resolves to –
- Agree that this Council has no confidence in Universal Credit.
- Call on the Leader of the Council to make representations to the Prime Minister to
urge her to scrap Universal Credit and to replace it with a social security system that
supports people and ensures that nobody is worse-off, rather than driving them into
- Authorise Council officers to commit appropriate resources from within the Council’s
budget to continue supporting local residents affected by Universal Credit.
Cllr Troy Gallagher, Islington Labour Councillor for Bunhill and Vice-Chair of the Policy and Performance Scrutiny Committee, said:
“The Government has allowed Universal Credit to become a complete and utter shambles, which now poses a real threat to thousands of people in Islington. What started out as a reasonable idea of merging several vital social security payments into one, has now turned into a clear Government policy of taking away support from those who can least afford to lose it.
“With roughly 4,000 people in Islington now on Universal Credit, we have seen increasing referrals to food banks and many people suffering with spiralling debts. As a local councillor, my surgeries are full of people who are being hit by this unfair and uncaring policy.
“Islington Council is working hard to provide residents who have been affected by Universal Credit with support and advice. We are also working to help prepare people who will be impacted by the further rollout of the policy, such as families with children currently aged under-5.
“It is clear that Universal Credit has been universally discredited.
“Last year, the Council called for the rollout of the policy to be paused, so that it could be fixed. A year on, and with the Government having failed to fix the problems, our motion to next week’s Full Council calls on the Government to scrap Universal Credit. Islington will be the first council to have called for this.
“We need a social security system that supports local people, not one that forces them to rely on food banks and causes debts to be built up. I hope other councils will follow Islington’s lead, and call for Universal Credit to be scrapped.”