What’s to be pleased about Universal Credit?

Iain Duncan Smith. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

Iain Duncan Smith. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

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Iain Duncan Smith visited Nelson Jobcentre on February 6th and declared he was “pleased” with the rollout of Universal Credit.

Of course, this will leave many people wondering just what he is pleased about.

Is it the delay in roll out of Universal Credit which has meant it is only available in 70 Jobcentres across the country so far and, as of November 2014, the 15,000 claimants who had been placed on the benefit?

Mr Duncan Smith once promised a million people would be claiming Universal Credit by April 2014. Is it the tens of millions of pounds that have been wasted and the myriad of IT problems that have beset Mr Duncan Smith’s flagship reform?

Or is it the fact Universal Credit was “reset” and classed as a new project by a government watchdog in 2013, a classification that had never been used before?

If Mr Duncan Smith was so happy with how he, and his Department, are doing, it makes you wonder why his visit was shrouded in such secrecy and, according to the pictures we’ve seen in the press, there were no claimants present during his visit.

The truth, of course, is that under Mr Duncan Smith’s “leadership” we’re seeing a social security system in meltdown, with waiting times for Personal Independence Payments on the increase, with the hated “bedroom tax” and reductions in council tax support causing misery for families across the country, with the use of foodbanks rising significantly since 2010 and where Jobcentre staff are being pressurised into placing sanctions on claimants, as recent emails seen by the Work and Pensions Select Committee have shown.

One of the Jobcentre staff told Mr Duncan Smith Universal Credit suffered “regular glitches” and “poor communication”.

I think that rather aptly describes Mr Duncan Smith himself.

Wayne Blackburn

Hardy Court, Nelson