Councillors to call for an end to Universal Credit

Universal Credit was rolled out in Leeds in October.
Universal Credit was rolled out in Leeds in October.

Politicians in Leeds are set to call for an end to the Government’s controversial Universal Credit programme at a meeting next week.

A motion, known as a white paper, is set to be presented to councillors by deputy council leader Coun Debra Coupar, and claims the new scheme makes families poorer and forces families to “choose between food and rent”.

Universal Credit (UC) is a single payment received by people who are on low incomes or out of work. It gets paid once a month, rather than weekly or fortnightly and replaces jobseekers’ allowance, child and working tax credits, employment support allowance, housing benefit and income support.

The scheme has been gradually rolled out around the country, with Leeds fully moving onto the new system last month.

Government has argued UC is designed to simplify benefits and incentivise work, but campaigners believe the changes are penalising the most vulnerable in society.

The motion reads: “This council remains deeply concerned by the potentially devastating impact the full roll out of Universal Credit will have on vulnerable people and low income families in Leeds, despite the Chancellor’s recent budget announcement.”

It adds that reports had been made that Universal Credit leads to a number of problems, including “exacerbating poverty and hardship, including child poverty”, “making low-income working families poorer” and “forcing people to choose between food and rent”.

It concludes: “Council notes that universal credit is likely to impact 85,000 people/families in Leeds when fully rolled out, with 10,000 affected in the first 12 months.

“Council therefore calls on the government to stop the roll out of universal credit without delay.”

The motion will be voted on by members at the full Leeds City Council meeting on Wednesday, November 14.