Universal Credit changes need implemented, says Armstrong

The recommendations of a new report which states radical changes are needed to the universal credit system should be implemented, Alliance Communities spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has said.

The report, commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and co-authored by researchers from the University of York and Ulster University, says changes such as ending the five-week wait for a universal credit payment and paying it at a level allowing people to meet living costs, would help families facing further hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I welcome this report and support the recommendations, which will both normalise and humanise the universal credit system for those using it,” said Ms Armstrong.

“This crisis has shown the current level of universal credit is not enough for people to live on and instead, the level of benefit should reflect universal basic income, which is something my colleagues Stephen Farry MP and Councillor Patrick Brown have been pressuring the UK Government to introduce.

“Among the recommendations, this report calls for a redesign for the universal credit system so everyone can be treated with respect. That should be the basic approach to the entire system – there is no shame in being on benefits.

“I will be asking the report’s authors to appear before the Assembly’s Communities Committee to discuss it and its findings, and how we can help implement them so dignity can be brought back into the system.”