Everyone knows that Universal Credit is a mess – apart from the Cabinet

Gordon Brown delivers a speech.

Gordon Brown thinks that Universal Credit could cause the Conservatives a summer of pain – and most Tory MPs agree.

People say Universal Credit is a failure, but it’s achieved an astonishing political feat: it’s united the executive editor of ConservativeHome, the entirety of the parliamentary Labour Party, Conservative MPs from Heidi Allen to Jacob Rees-Mogg, and now Labour’s last Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Brown today warns that if the Conservatives do not halt the Universal Credit roll-out, it will trigger a “summer of discontent” for the party next year.

The overarching problem with Universal Credit is that it has always been the servant of two masters: an Iain Duncan Smith project to make work pay and a Treasury project to reduce the size of the social security bill. That battle was decisively lost by Duncan Smith which is one reason why he quit the Cabinet in 2016. The reality is that Universal Credit has exacerbated the problem of in-work poverty and has made it harder, not easier, for people with dependent children or disabilities to enter the workforce, while being an inadequate safety net for people who are unable to work.

The one thing it has been any good at – other than provoking astonishing political unity – is in allowing the Treasury to make illusory savings by grandfathering in politically contentious cuts to in-work benefits into the new system, rather than doing them to the existing welfare system.

But the political problem is that the reason why these cuts had to been grandfathered in is that they cause too much pain to the people on those benefits, which in turn causes too much electoral pain to the Conservative Party. Now those cuts are being rolled out to Universal Credit and the actual and political pain is back.

Is Gordon Brown (and …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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