David Gauke, the secretary of work and pensions, claimed to his conservative party comrades that universal credit is working. He said this during the Conservative party conference. When he did so, it was hard to understand whether he fabricated willingly or was there a complete disregard of fact while making the claim. His words confused a whole swathe of critics both inside and outside the Tory party. A significant number of conservatives are requesting a temporary halt of this benefit system. They also want to reset the system in its entirety.
There are a number of reasons for doubting the authenticity of benefits brought about by universal credit. A large mass of documentation exists to prove that it is a ruinous scheme. The proof has piled up on the committee looking after the Commons work and pensions. These submissions are made by charities, claimants, landlords, and also local authorities. They reveal one fact: despite the theoretical allure, it has transformed into a nightmare for the bureaucrats. Financial disaster has followed many who have engaged with it. It has played a direct role in increasing personal debt, eviction, rent arrears, and use of food banks. Mental distress is yet another documented problem. These are not sudden. A number of bad outcomes were predicted from the time of its inception.
Support and opposition
It remains unclear whether the speech about universal credit was really too large to fail or simply a pep talk. For a few conservatives, this is too expensive and an ambitious reform that cannot go wrong. It helps that Gauke has a reputation of being intelligent and pragmatic during his time as a minister. Then again, the party meet is no time to being the harbinger of bad news. The problem is that the speech is a reckless endorsement of a certain fragile system dotted by political risk.
Heidi Allen, a Tory and a prominent backbencher, led 14 Conservative MPs to call for a stop to the program. She has a detailed knowledge of how universal credit works. It is thus a given that her words carry weight. It is a sobering rejoinder to other members of the Tory party who believes in achievements of the program which can only be described as a disturbing truth. The problem with universal credit is political and not technical. Ad hoc decisions have only derailed the promising program.