Eight months after the Universal Credit (UC) system was rolled out in Derry there have been fresh calls for its scrappage.
Foyle MLA, Mark H. Durkan, has claimed UC, which replaced Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits, for new Derry claimants at the start of the year, is penalising hard-working people.
“Working families are losing out on hundreds of pounds of entitlement under the current system; in particular claimants who are paid fortnightly are being penalised,” he said.
“I have encountered similar issues surrounding self-employed individuals who are subject to a minimum income floor. Whether those individuals were low on hours or low on pay progress; the system aims to top that up. We’ve found this is not the case for many people.”
He said claims by those championing the UC system that it rewarded working people were plainly bogus.
“Not only are people left worse off but it can also affect health care entitlements and automatically triggers the benefit cap, despite the fact that they are working.
“In Derry, we have one of the highest rates of social deprivation and poverty in the North, UC will only exacerbate these existing issues. The stark reality is that UC is not fit for purpose and is failing what it initially set out to achieve. Rather than encouraging claimants to gain employment it punishes those already in work.”