Fiona writes to the Chancellor regarding Universal Credit

Fiona said:

"This campaign was successful, with the Chancellor committing in his Budget in November to raise this level by £1,000. This means that 2.4 million families with children and people with disabilities on the lowest of incomes will have £630 per year more in their pockets."

The letter was as follows:

 

"Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP

Chancellor of the Exchequer

HM Treasury

1 Horse Guards Road

London

SW1A 2HQ                                                                                                      15 October 2018

 

Dear Philip

Universal Credit (UC) is changing lives for the better, and the forthcoming budget is the time to invest in it.

Early results suggest that UC increases the probability that a welfare claimant finds work within six months of a claim, that they are more likely to work for more hours, they are more likely to progress in work, and ultimately to earn more.

The Department for Work and Pensions estimate that UC, when fully rolled out, will help around 250,000 more people into work, compared with legacy benefits, and one million more severely disabled will see a £110 increase per month. We believe it to be one of the most important public policy reforms in the fight against poverty because of the way it is designed and proven to support more people into work.

The Government should be congratulated on its investment of £2bn in recent budgets, partially reversing the cuts of your predecessor in 2015. And it is with that in mind that we are asking for further investment in this world-leading and proven system. It is crucial that the Government controls costs to put this country on a stable financial footing.

When it comes to welfare this must be done in a way that protects the poorest and most disadvantaged and gives people every opportunity to make the most of their potential. In our view this can be best done by immediately raising the UC Work Allowance threshold to its pre-2015 budget levels before fulfilling our 2015 manifesto pledge to raise the personal tax threshold to £12,500.

This immediate investment of £2bn into UC would ensure that all spending goes immediately to those that need it most. It achieves two vital goals.

Firstly, it upholds and indeed bolsters the manifesto commitment to allow low-income families to keep more of their income – increasing the work allowance is effectively the most targeted way of giving the poorest families the biggest tax break. While three quarters of the gains from increasing the personal tax threshold are felt by the top half of earners in the country, every penny invested in restoring the UC work allowances threshold goes to families who we know are already in need of income support.

Secondly, it is crucial to ensure that work always pays. People must be incentivised and rewarded for doing the right thing and working, when they can, to provide for themselves and their families. The UC work allowances are the most targeted way of doing this. By choosing to invest in UC work allowances more people will find work and those in relatively low-paid work will be better supported.

As well as being a costed policy, it would have a number of important subsequent economic and social benefits. So, for example, by increasing the amount of money available to entrants to the new system, it would significantly reduce the need for protection payments, which those moving from the legacy system need.

While increases to NHS funding are hugely welcome, research on the social determinants of health, by Professor Sir Michael Marmot and others, show that UC investment would be good health policy: work, living standards, and income are as important to health as our access to services. This is a truly preventative health policy.

It is also an education policy, with the effect of a stable working household being as influential on child development as anything that happens in our schools. And it is good mental health policy, with the clear and repeated link between employment, purpose, and good mental health.

The concurrent rollout of Universal Support would also give the right contextual support to people suffering from mental health problems. Indeed investing in Universal Support, as it was originally designed, would help people with a range of problems from addiction to serious personal debt.

If this is to be a Government that is committed to social justice, to making work pay, to physical and mental health, and to seeing every citizen flourish, this is the best investment to reflect those aims, at no cost, and indeed with potential savings, to the country.

Yours Sincerely

 

Fiona Bruce MP and 17 other Conservative MPs"