Newham Recorder Big Debate: Is Universal Credit fair or will it hurt Newham's poor?

Following the introduction of Universal Credit in the borough on Monday last week, Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales expressed fears that the new system would push vulnerable people into the arms of loan sharks.

But the Conservative Party insists that by merging six benefits into one payment the Universal Credit scheme will cut red tape and also ensure that a life in work pays more than one on benefits.

Matthew Gass - Deputy Chairman Membership & Finance at West Ham Conservatives

Universal Credit is restoring fairness to the system by making sure work always pays more than living on benefits.

Recent analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows it is helping people move off welfare and into work.

Universal Credit claimants are more likely to move into work to earn more than those on Jobseeker’s Allowance and once fully rolled out it will bring £6.7billion in economic benefit every year.

But that isn’t the main reason to reform the system. Life in work is more rewarding than life on benefits. This is why it’s good news unemployment is at a 10-year low, falling by another 60,000 in the most recent figures, while wages are growing faster than the rate of inflation.

The government is achieving this by doing away with the complexity of the old system to merge six benefits into one simple payment to ensure that work always pays.

Claimants will no longer need to go through the bureaucracy of changing their benefit claim when they get into work, as Universal Credit stays with claimants when they enter work.

Under Labour the welfare system punished work – working people could lose over £9 of every £10 extra they earned.

The benefit system was so complicated that for some people, there was virtually no financial incentive to work.

New research shows that the number of people facing very weak incentives to enter work will fall by two-thirds.

Labour created a welfare system that trapped people out of work. Now the Conservative government is building a system that protects the vulnerable, but rewards work, creates jobs and grows wages.