I joined Sydny, Kath and Isabel from the Gwent-based Pobl Youth Group at the Department for Work and Pensions today to demand an end to the injustice facing Universal Credit claimants aged 25 and under.
Under Universal Credit, lone parents aged under 25 get paid a lower rate than they would have received under tax credits. Young people from the Pobl Youth Group, convened by Charter and Bron Afon housing associations, are campaigning for changes to the system.
It’s wrong that parents are losing out through no fault of their own because of an in-built injustice in the system. 24 year old parents face the living costs as 25 year olds – their bills are certainly no cheaper – yet they are £66 a month worse off under Universal Credit. The campaigners I met with tell me that this is causing them real hardship.
There is no clear rationale for the policy. The Government’s suggestion that those under 25 are likely to have lower living costs is a sweeping and lazy generalisation. Many parents under the age of 25 are in education or establishing themselves in the world of work, and in some cases ties with families have broken down so that they can no longer count on parental support. This flies in the face of previous Government claims that no one would be worse off under the new system – 55,000 parents on Universal Credit are worse off than they would have been under legacy benefits.
I was pleased that the DWP Minister made good on his promise to meet with us today and listen to the concerns of local campaigners like Sydny and Kath, but the fact remains that there are a number of gaping flaws with Universal Credit which need to be addressed if claimants are ever to invest any trust in a system which has already been plagued by problems.