Victory for South Cambs MP Heidi Allen in campaign to make Universal Credit scheme fairer
South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen has declared a victory in the campaign to make Universal Credit fairer after a number of concessions were announced in last week’s Budget.
In Wednesday’s Budget announced in the House of Commons, Chancellor Philip Hammond revealed a number of changes to the new benefits system which is currently being rolled out across the UK, but has been criticised for delayed payments and for being unfairly calculated.
The Chancellor announced that from February, the Government will reduce the initial six-week waiting period to five weeks for all people claiming Universal Credit and those receiving housing benefit will also receive an additional two-week housing benefit payment.
For claimants unable to wait five weeks for their first major payment, an advance loan payment will also be made available. This is double the advance previously offered and the repayment window has also been doubled to one year from six months.
Mrs Allen, whose lengthy campaign on Universal Credit focused on reducing the six-week wait and keeping people out of rent arrears said afterwards: “I am so pleased by the announcements made by the Chancellor.
“Not only have the Government listened to our concerns regarding the initial wait, they have additionally committed to paying a further two weeks of housing benefit to claimants moving on to UC. Housing payments make up the bulk of people’s outgoings, so this additional funding will make a real difference, taking the pressure of people struggling to get back on their feet. If I was worried about losing the roof over my head, I doubt very much I would be able to concentrate on much else.”
She added: “Securing these improvements is a vital step in making Universal Credit the ultimate poverty fighting machine it was designed to be. This was a team effort and I want to thank ministers, my colleagues across the House and numerous charities such as the Citizens Advice Bureau who helped achieve this. It’s a real victory for common sense, compassion and the good that Government can do.”
You can read more about Mrs Allen’s campaign in Parliament on her website at www.heidisouthcambs.co.uk/news/universal-credit.