UNIVERSIAL CREDIT has been absolute disaster for the government since they began rolling it out and have been facing increasing pressure to stop altogether from both opposition parties and those within the Conservatives. The shambolic rollout has seen many cases of people falling into rental arrears and other debts because they haven't received any money, with some faced with eviction and homelessness plus, the government weren't abe to rule out that families won't go hungry at Christmas.

The government argue that the principle of the scheme will help those who need to claim except most people and politicians agree with the principle, it is the way that it is being rolled out which is causing the problems

What is Universal Credit?

The benefit was designed to replace six means-tested benefits and tax credits: income based Jobseeker's Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, income based Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support.

The idea was to simplify the social security system but the problems it encountered has seen people go into debt because of the 6-week waiting period before the first payment.

Due to this waiting period and because rent is paid directly to landlords, this has seen many people fall into rental arrears. Furthermore, because there have been significant problems with the IT systems and project management during implementation, people have been cut off altogether despite being eligible. But what makes this considerably worse is up to 55ppm phone charge when you call the jobcentre.

The 55ppm phone charge

Jeremy Corbyn pointed out in PMQs that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) charge 55ppm to contact your local jobcentre, the poorest in society could rack up a bill of £16+ for just calling with a simple query about Universal Credit.

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When questioned, Theresa May avoided the issue and just pointed to the 'principle' of the policy. When Andrew Neil question Liz Truss on this phone charge, she stated the same rhetoric and the government currently refuse to remove this charge.

There is little surprise that the Conservatives would charge poorest in society because they have overseen a 300% increase in food banks, child poverty, homelessness and suicides because of their welfare cuts. There is little chance that they will remove the phone charge as it is BT who provide the service and it was Thatcher who privatised them in 1984, additionally, Lord Ian Livingston, former minister for trade and investment, was the CEO until September 2013 and he was made a life peer in the lords peer in the lords in July 2013.

Whilst he may not have a direct say he will no doubt have some influence with the other directors, plus, he has approximately £20 million worth of shares in BT and despite no longer in his position in government, he is still in the House of Lords and has a say over policies.

The scheme itself was estimated to cost £2 billion, however, due to the problems this is set to rise to £12 billion and they even made cuts to the payments that caused an increase of families to fall into poverty.