Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MPs Support Call to Halt Shake-Up of Benefits

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MPs Support Call to Halt Shake-Up of Benefits

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN WALKER Reporter

LABOUR MPs have backed former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's call for the Government to halt the roll-out of Universal Credit.

Mr Brown has warned of "chaos" if the Government pushes on with the new benefits system, which is due to be launched in Northumberland next month. He suggested there could be riots similar to those that followed the introduction of the poll tax in the 1990s.

He was praised by Bishop Auckland Labour MP Helen Goodman, who said: "I agree with Gordon. The average cuts to family incomes from the roll-out of Universal Credit will be PS2,400, but many of my constituents will lose even more."

Easington Labour MP Grahame Morris said: "Gordon Brown is absolutely correct. Universal Credit is cruel and vindictive in nature."

It comes after charities warned the nationwide introduction of Universal Credit would trigger a surge in the number of people using food banks.

According to reports, millions of families could be left up to PS200 a month worse off when the new system is introduced in July.

Mr Brown warned that Universal Credit would remove PS3 billion from the social security budget on top of cuts to child tax credits and benefit, which he helped introduce.

He said: "For the first time that any of us can remember, the safety net is not now the welfare state but charity and the lifeline for families in need is not social security but food banks."

And he warned: "A return to poll taxstyle chaos in a summer of discontent lies ahead."

Universal Credit, which replaces a range of benefits including Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and more, has been rolled out gradually across the country, and Newcastle was the first whole city to receive it.

The new benefit comes to Northumberland in November.

But the National Audit Office, the official independent watchdog for government spending, has warned that at least 270,000 claimants are expected to receive their payments late in 2018, likely to cause them serious financial problems. …

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