Universal Credit will Fail Everyone

During a Conservative party conference meeting Iain Duncan Smith said that the bottom five deciles of UK people will be on Universal Credit. That is 5 out of 10. On the 10/10/2016 — the government said it would be 7 million households. That could affect more than 14 million people.

This will mean millions of low paid retail, hospitality and care workers will be forced to visit a jobcentre every month or 3 months. Imagine that after a hard 30 hour week being told you have to take time off work to visit a jobcentre. Failure to attend will mean losing all your Universal Credit. This would mean losing the equivalent of tax credits, child tax credits and housing benefit. For most low paid workers in the bottom 5 deciles — this would be the equivalent of being hit with a bombshell. Their lives thrown into total chaos.

A system that requires the bottom 5 deciles to visit a jobcentre to demonstrate they are trying to improve their lives is a failing system. Also employers will be angry. Typically retail employers have 4 types of workers 10, 20, or 30 hours and 37.5 hours for managers. The majority in retail are women working 20 or 30 hours. Imagine employers being told they have to offer someone on 30 hours 35 hours. It would mean they would have to get rid of a young person typically a university student on 10 hours. This would mess up their workforce planning and mean that students would be in greater debt leaving university with no real world work experience. It would also lead to increased illness amongst their shop workers. Retail workers already stand for up to 6 hours per day — it would be like saying to stand for an extra hour each day.

Imagine if rich people were asked to turn up to a jobcentre every month to demonstrate they were working hard and also looking for another higher paid job — and that if they failed they would have to pay more tax. That would never be a government policy. So why treat the poorest differently?

A country that wants to punish the bottom 5 deciles — 5 out of 10 — to provide the government with regular updates on their work progress or lose all benefits is a step too far.

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