Glamorgan Gazette Column - October 2017
Chris Elmore's Westminster Eye
Last week in Parliament we saw that we truly do have a zombie government in Downing Street.
On Wednesday, the Government was defeated by 299 votes to 0 on a vote calling for the roll-out of Universal Credit to be scrapped. The Tories chose not to take part in this vote because they knew that they would lose. We therefore now know that this government is in such a weak position that it cannot command a majority in the House of Commons for its own policies.
The wider point here is the reason why this opposition debate was called in the first place. The roll-out of Universal Credit has started and, whilst it won’t reach this area until early next year, it has had disastrous consequences for those who are claiming it elsewhere.
The new benefit is creating poverty and debt for families across the country. The Department for Work and Pensions’ own data shows that 1 in 4 claimants are having to wait over 6 weeks to receive any money at all, with half of those in rent arrears reporting that they went into debt as a result of claiming University Credit.
The Government has so far refused to listen to the concerns which myself and many colleagues have raised. The social security system is meant to protect people from falling into debt – not make their financial situation worse. The roll-out of Universal Credit must be paused before it reaches our area before thousands of people are made worse off.
Many Tory MPs were tempted to vote with us to call for the roll-out to pause – indeed, one actually did. It’s time Conservative MPs thought about many of their constituents who are currently struggling as a result of 7 long years of Tory cuts and treated them with some humanity.
My Labour colleagues and I will keep the pressure on the Government to not only pause this damaging roll-out, but to fix this broken welfare system.