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Universal Credit rollout delayed as more cracks appear

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Rollout for flawed scheme stalled yet again

Charities have welcomed a delay to a crucial vote in parliament on Universal Credit (UC) amid increasing concern the new benefit is driving people into poverty.

MPs were due to vote on the next phase of the controversial scheme’s rollout with around three million claimants expected to move onto UC in a few weeks.

However fears that several Tory MPs were prepared to vote down the proposal means work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd delayed the crucial vote on the eleventh hour.

Charities including Shelter, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Mind all welcomed the move.

Rudd said she was looking to roll-out the "vital reform" to the benefits system "carefully."

"I'm glad charities and colleagues are backing my plans to move and monitor 10,000 people from the old system," she tweeted.

"It means #UC can proceed on time and be fit for purpose: helping people work and getting support to people quickly."

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood said: “Hopefully the government is waking up to the devastating implications of its so-called ‘managed migration’ to Universal Credit.

“However, Universal Credit is deeply flawed and many people are due to move onto it outside of managed migration.

“The policy is simply not working: it is pushing many families into poverty, rent arrears and to foodbanks.

“The government needs to stop the roll out of Universal Credit as a matter of urgency and deliver a social security system that supports people rather than one that pushes many into poverty.”

Universal cCedit rolls six working-age benefits into one monthly payment, but its implementation has prompted concerns from charities and MPs of all parties about causing hardship for claimants.

The policy is simply not working - Margaret Greenwood

Theresa May defended the system as one that "encourages people into work.

"Throughout the introduction of Universal Credit, we've been clear that we would roll it out as a steady process, learn as we were going along. We've done that, we've made changes to Universal Credit as we've been going along," she said.

"We'll be saying more about the future in the coming weeks. But it will be fully rolled out by 2023 as was originally intended.

"The reason why it's important to get this right, why we've been taking our time, why we've been ensuring that we've made changes as we've been learning through this process is because this is a much better system than the system it replaced.

"This is a system that encourages people into work, makes sure that when they're in work it pays."

Although further rollout has been halted, this comes too late for new claimants in Scotland. where the rollout was completed just before Christmas.