The tissue of lies that is Universal Credit

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, has told a few more lies about Universal Credit (UC) and is being encouraged to resign.

This is the latest in a long series of lies ever since the scheme was launched by one of her predecessors, Ian Duncan Smith.

The most blatant of these, and one that was pushed on the basis that if you keep repeating something people will believe it, is that UC is "simpler".  In fact UC is the most complicated system of means-testing and conditionality in the history of the UK social security system.

The real purpose of UC is to advance the cause of an end to rights-based social security provision entrenched in the decades following the Second World War.  The basic premise of UC is that claimants must prove to Officials that they are worthy of payments to get anything.  This is typically done using a mixture of questionnaires and, crucially, interviews, that fundamentally take us back towards the days when poor people had to sit in front of "Boards of Guardians" and the like to get "poor relief". 

Thank goodness for the Equality Act, which obliges the DWP to prove that UC doesn't discriminate against disabled people if disabled claimants bring claims.  Fortunately, one action has already succeeded.  And there will surely be more to come!    

Legal aid "gateway" in fact a barricade

The Government's farcical "Civil Legal Advice Gateway" delivered just 15 funded discrimination cases in an entire year.  And that's for all categories of discrimination!  And just 0.2% of people seeking support with challenging discrimination were allowed face to face advice.

The CLAG is a virtual reality service - it makes it look like help is available when in fact it isn't.  Applicants have to undergo two means tests, one with Officials tasked with assessing their case, and then another if they are passed on to a legally qualified contractor.  And if they get that far applicants are bombarded with an avalanche of paperwork that does nothing to progress the case but prevents most people getting any further.

Baring in mind this is the only route to get legal aid for discrimination claims against the DWP it is hardly surprising. 

This excellent report from Public Law Project provides further detail: PLP Research Briefing Paper - The Civil Legal Advice Telephone Gateway