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NUJ statement on the NAO's critical report on universal credit

15 June 2018

The NUJ Disabled Members’ Council has welcomed the findings of the National Audit Office report Rolling Out Universal Credit.

Ann Galpin, chair of the council, said:

“It has been clear to disabled people that the rollout of universal credit has been shambolic. We have seen cuts to benefits forcing people into debt, increasing rent arrears and the use of food banks.
"Combined with cuts to Access to Work, difficulties accessing Personal Independence Payments and the reduction of severe/enhanced disability premiums, universal credit is making it harder than ever for disabled people to stay in work. The National Audit Office report highlights this and yet still the Department of Work and Pensions refuses to acknowledge how universal credit has increased hardship.
"We are disappointed that the NAO believes there is no other option than to continue to progress this deeply flawed and wasteful system despite its own damning assessment of the multiple problems and failures with implementing the system to date."

The NUJ Delegates Meeting in May noted that universal credit is a disaster for low-paid journalists whose income fluctuates from month to month. Similar debates have taken place across the trade union movement, with TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference calling for universal credit to be scrapped.

The first legal challenge against Universal Credit found that the government discriminated against two men with severe disabilities who were required to claim the new benefit after moving into new local authority areas. The Secretary of State is now seeking to appeal.

Natasha Hirst, NUJ disabled members’ representative, said:

“Universal credit was promoted with the promise that it would support more people into work. For many, it reduces support and costs far more than the previous system to administer. Our deaf and disabled members are already disadvantaged by the disability pay gap and are more likely to be self-employed, with fluctuating work and income.
"Universal credit should be protecting people in precarious work, yet it pushes them into more stressful and insecure situations that make it more difficult to seek and retain employment."

Tags: , disabled members' council, universal credit, dm18, national audit office, equality