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Anna McMorrin MP letter to Amber Rudd MP about Universal Credit

January 29, 2019

My recent letter to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd MP.

Re: Universal Credit Assessment Period Inflexibility – High Court Case R (Woods, Barrett and Stewart) v SSWP CO/1552/2018

Following the recent Judicial Review initiated by Child Poverty Action Group against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) regarding the inflexibility of Universal Credit’s assessment periods, I am writing to welcome the judgment made and to ask you to take urgent action in response to the High Court, to implement the necessary system changes.

As you will be aware, my Labour colleagues and I have been raising significant concerns about the deeply flawed welfare reforms and the impact these reforms are having and will continue to have on claimants, since well before the full-service roll out of UC. It is therefore of no surprise that the harm and significant financial disadvantage arising from UC claims has resulted in several high court cases against the Department over recent months.

The judgment given on the 11th January 2019 in favour of the claimants, has found that you and your department have been interpreting your own regulations incorrectly. It has been wrongly assumed that if two months’ salary falls into a single assessment period, then these combined salaries should be treated as earned income in that assessment period, irrespective of the fact that the salaries are referable to two separate months.

Universal Credit was established as a means of enabling those with limited or no means to meet their basic needs, and to quote the Conservatives in irony; “to make work pay”. It is clear the wrongful interpretation of the Regulations has meant UC has seriously failed in its purpose, as this is one of many deeply flawed aspects of UC that are driving families deeper into poverty and devastation. This has been the case for many of my constituents in Cardiff North, in Wales more widely and across the rest of the UK.

If you are serious in your promises to make UC a ‘decent safety net’ for hardworking families and for UC to be a ‘fair and compassionate’ benefit, it is imperative that you take meaningful action now. My constituents face a relentless uphill battle against the rigid assessment periods each month. The DWP must therefore not challenge the outcome of the Judicial Review and must instead implement the necessary system changes as a matter of urgency, to ensure that hardworking families are paid what they are entitled to.

I am acutely aware that there will be significant costs associated with updating the automated system in order to comply with the law. However, when so many people continue to suffer and have personally borne the costs of this broken system, it is now time for you to do the right thing.

I hope that serious consideration is given to the ‘common sense’ judgement of the High Court ahead of the hearing scheduled for the 26th February and I would strongly urge you to implement the recommendations immediately.

Thank you for giving this matter your attention and I would be very grateful for your response to the concerns raised.

Yours sincerely/ Yn gywir,

 Anna McMorrin MP/AS
Member of Parliament for Cardiff North
Aelod Seneddol dros Ogledd Caerdydd

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