Universal Credit is the brainchild of Iain Duncan Smith though a child’s brain has more capacity than that of IDS and a 5 year old knows more of the impact of their decisions than the former leader of the Tory party and former DWP Minister.
Universal Credit will increase the overall ‘welfare’ bill by around £24 billion per year as it means ALL claimants will get ALL the social security benefits and tax credits (i.e. welfare) they are entitled to but now do not claim and the DWP’s own figures released in June 2015 reveal that £24 billion per year is entitled to yet currently goes unclaimed. This Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less scheme we call Universal Credit is as much a work of fiction as to its competence as a Jeffrey Archer novel.
The same Universal Credit will see all pensioners living in social housing become subject to the back-door bedroom tax which has also been confirmed by the DWP and see here for the detailed explanation that can be as much as a £1500 per year cut to the Housing Benefit of pensioners.
That means simply that pensioners are going to have to find around £30 per week out of their State Pension just to pay for the roof over their heads.
If we had any sort of political opposition these obvious facts that reveal chronic economic incompetence of Tory welfare policy and the political suicide of taking away pensioner benefits would see the Tories ousted at the next election. Do we still see the Labour Party position being that of Rachel Reeves who infamously and shamefully said in 2015 in the Independent that Labour are the party of those in work and not those on welfare?
Note well too that some 68% of all welfare is paid to the pensioner as our old friend IDS in a parliamentary written answer in 2014 when heading up the DWP and only 32% goes to those of working age (see end).
Yet just stating that fact, and it is a fact, causes the consternation of how dare you say the State Pension is welfare, blah, blah – that of course only goes to show the political importance and electoral sensitivity of the pensioner vote.
If we had any sort of challenge from social housing lobbies who have at least 500,000 under occupying pensioners as their tenants and are at huge financial risk of these UC cuts to pensioners given the English Housing Survey reports 28% of social households are headed by the pensioner these systemic Universal Credit problems would be highlighted.
The housing lobbies of National Housing Federation and Chartered Institute of Housing only tend to have a London (London, London, Bloody London) focus and the social housing pensioner there is NOT affected there and can have 4 or 5 spare bedrooms and have their full social rent paid while the pensioner in the North of England has a £30 per week cut to their HB. Just as significant is that Labour MPs tend to have this London, London, Bloody London focus too and miss this huge political impact that would benefit their political ends.
The classic case being Frank Field the MP for Birkenhead who also chairs the all party DWP committee as pensioners will only receive a maximum of £86 per week for housing costs under UC – the 1 bed LHA rate – and so many in his constituency live in 3 bed houses with an average rent of £104 per week according to official figures in the Statistical Data Return for a social rent level. That’s a £936 cut per year to Birkenhead pensioners Mr Field under the UC system that you are on record as saying is wonderful and quite what that reveals about your level of impact scrutiny and your competence to chair the all party DWP committee is another matter!
In a parliamentary statement in November 2016 it was clearly that the pensioner will be subject to the back door pensioner bedroom tax as this has become known and that it will apply to ALL pensioners not just those who are new tenants or have their tenancies renewed after April 2016. Damian Green the DWP minister stated back in November.
For Universal Credit, to ensure simplicity and a streamlined process, Local Housing Allowance rates will apply to all new and existing tenants, again only where their social rent is higher than the relevant Local Housing Allowance rate.
There is no ambiguity here as the highlighted part of that statement reveals and the LHA maxima cap policy on which there has been no consultation or impact assessment as it applies to general needs social housing tenants (!!) will see ALL pensioners whose social housing rent is higher than the 1 bed Local Housing Allowance rate have a cut in what we now call housing benefit and becomes housing costs payment under Universal Credit.
There is no doubt that this policy from 2019 will hit pensioners with high levels of welfare cuts and there is also no doubt that this policy is the deluded brainchild of Tory ideology. Yet the real issue is the lack of opposition to it from ALL of the political opponents of this Tory government.
Taking a penny off the pensioner in benefit is a political no-no never mind the £30 or so per week this will take off them as I detailed in my post here yesterday.
This is the biggest political gift horse any opposition party could get and in that respect an even bigger political issue than Brexit yet there is no fuss at all being made over this from ANY political party, any pensioner lobby, any housing lobby and any anti-cuts welfare lobby!
Isn’t it about time a fuss was made in order to prevent this policy from taking place? Isn’t is about time the 100% London, London, Bloody London focus was put out to grass? Isn’t it about time that social landlords grew a spine? Or are we permanently in a spineless post-truth political climate that left unchallenged means the return of the pensioner workhouse?
The 68% Pensioner welfare spend and IDS written answer
EHS (2014/15) social housing tenants by age group