NINE OUT OF TEN WORSE OFF – under Universal Credit

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‘Nine out of ten people are expected to be worse off under the new Universal Credit system,’ Tim Nichols of the Child Poverty Action Group told News Line yesterday.

‘Disabled children are one of the big losers compared to the current system,’ he added.

‘For most disabled children, under Universal Credit the additional credit they receive in recognition of the extra costs to the family is half what it is currently in tax credits.

‘There is also concern that many claimants, particularly vulnerable claimants such as those with mental health conditions, will struggle with their budgeting due to features like monthly payments and payments for housing to themselves rather than to the landlord.’

A massive onslaught on more than seven million poor, disabled and other people who rely on welfare benefits began yesterday.

Universal Credit, replacing all benefits and tax credits by one monthly payment, began in Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester yesterday.

Universal Credit is to replace jobseekers allowance, employment and support allowance, income support, child tax credit, working tax credit, and housing benefit.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘If universal credit was being introduced to genuinely make life easier for people entitled to benefits it would be commendable, but the government’s pernicious language exposes its real intent is to demonise and punish them.

‘We have shown that ministers are prepared to mislead and misdirect to drive through their welfare cuts so we are challenging Iain Duncan Smith and others to prove what they claim is true.

‘The next time a minister says people are better off on benefits than in work, give them a pen and paper and ask them to show you how.’

• Defence Secretary Hammond is in talks with the Treasury in a bid to grab up to £200m from health and £120m from education for the Armed Forces.

Anna Athow, former BMA Council member stated yesterday: ‘Every health union should make this a huge issue. Not one penny of health budget money should go for to the military. All unions should be fighting to reverse the £20bn cuts and defend every job and health facility.’

Martin Johnson, deputy general secretary at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: ‘Of course we don’t want any further cuts to the education budget. It is bad enough that spending on education is already being cut in real terms.

‘It would be particularly foolhardy to cut spending on education since it is widely believed that investing in education is one of the best investments any country can make for its future prosperity.’

A confidential document being drawn up as part of Chancellor Osborne’s Spending Review due in June, shows that the Treasury is looking for cuts of £11.5bn from Whitehall departments whose budgets have not been protected.