Over the next six months or so Universal Credit (UC) will be rolled out in Derbyshire.
The idea was first dreamed up by Iain Duncan-Smith on a visit to one of the most deprived estates in Glasgow.
Whilst the theory is sound, ie rolling most welfare benefits into a single payment, the practice is anything but.
Where UC has been trialled it has been an unmitigated disaster. The new system is digital, so claimants must go on line to apply. If they have no computer they are invited to go to, for example the library.
At the same time the government are closing Job Centres in Derbyshire.
The worst element of UC is that people will have to wait between six and ten weeks to receive their first payment. Imagine the problems that already vulnerable people living hand-to-mouth will face.
If it becomes a choice of feeding your kids or paying the rent, I know what I would do.
On top of this, both the Peabody and Resolution Foundations have estimated families, disabled and unemployed will be £2,600 worse off annually. These facts above are indisputable. MP’s, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and many other agencies have called for UC to be stopped in its tracks before it’s too late.
From a personal point of view this project was never introduced as a panacea for reforming welfare benefits, rather than a mean-spirited attempt to roll back the welfare state and make the most disadvantaged in society pay for the governments’ austerity plan.
The government chose to carry out this experiment on those either in poverty or close to it because they are the hidden ones, poverty is a condition that subjugates its victims.
Suppose for example that a plan was carried out to combat fox hunting and no-one chose to involve hunt protesters, that would cause outrage, and rightly so.
Those in poverty have never had, nor never will have under this government, any say in this cruel and nasty experiment.
We will witness the consequences of this in more poverty for more than 8million men, women and children, more homelessness and more mental health problems.
There is no other area in society where we would stand by and watch this happen. I see a perfect storm brewing.
For the governments’ attitude, they will have plenty of excuses and answers, but what they will not do is lose any sleep. As I said in a previous letter, they cannot help themselves, it’s in their DNA.