mercredi 8 août 2018

Damaging rigidity of universal credit | Letters

The ‘whole month approach’ to changes of circumstances will create problems for universal credit recipients, says Fran Bennett; Sarah Sheils says parliament’s failure to tackle child food poverty has a long history

Your report (Households left in debt by flaws in design of universal credit system, 6 August) rightly focuses on the rigidity of the monthly assessment for universal credit when it comes to the different ways in which people are paid. But the report from the Child Poverty Action Group published that day also highlighted the “whole-month approach” to changes of circumstances, which will create additional problems. So, for example, if you move to a flat with a lower rent in the middle of the month, that is the rent you are assumed to have paid for the whole month when your universal credit is worked out – leaving you with a shortfall. And if your daughter moves out the day before your assessment date, you will get no universal credit for having fed her for the whole of that month. So your universal credit may go up and down in an arbitrary way in relation to your needs, depending on when things happen. Yet you are expected to be learning to budget on a monthly basis. You couldn’t make it up.
Fran Bennett

• Readers might be interested to know (Ministers’ secret plan to assess role of austerity in food poverty, 8 August) that in the summer of 1914, Arnold Rowntree, then Liberal MP for York, managed to put a bill before parliament that would have provided free school meals during the school summer holidays for children normally in receipt of free school meals in term time. His proposal was backed up by the research done by his cousin, Seebohm Rowntree, who showed that the need arose because of low wages paid to working parents, particularly in the railway and postal services. Unfortunately, the bill, introduced on 28 July 1914, fell foul of the outbreak of the first world war on 4 August. Plus ça change.
Sarah Sheils

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from Children | The Guardian

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