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CAMPAIGNERS and politicians warned yesterday that universal credit (UC) fraud revelations on advance payments highlight the new benefit system’s complete failure.
Over 40,000 fraudulent applications for advances are leaving claimants scammed and at risk of destitution, costing millions of pounds of public money, the BBC revealed on Monday.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood told the Commons during an emergency debate on UC that the government’s claim that it would reduce error was proving to be false.
She argued that the rate of fraud is higher under UC than the system it was replacing.
Ms Greenwood said: “Labour members have repeatedly highlighted the hardship that the five-week wait for an initial payment causes, pushing many people into debt and rent arrears or forcing them to turn to foodbanks to survive.
“It is clear from this report that advances are not the answer to the five-week wait; they are loans that have to be paid off by claimants — in this case, the victims of scams.
“The government must finally listen to the evidence and stop the roll-out of UC.”
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) Sheffield’s Jennifer Jones told the Star that the report “led more weight to the argument that the system in its current form is unworkable.”
Ms Jones said: “When we see evidence of fraud against claimants being committed on this scale, it proves that there needs to be some serious thought put into giving the system a proper overhaul and putting in place a welfare system that supports each claimant each according to their need and ability.
“UC is a failing system and needs to be stopped and scrapped. The legacy benefits system is still operational as people who are on a severe disability premium and receive ESA are still on the legacy system so the government is lying that the legacy benefits system no longer exists.
“The government absolutely has the facility to stop universal credit, return people to the previous system of welfare and give the whole thing and massive overhaul. But that needs to be properly funded with claimants needs in mind as the priority.”
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