Universal credit flaws and IT glitch must not damage children and families

January 12, 2011

Commenting on the report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies on the government’s proposals for welfare reform and a Universal Credit system, the Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, Alison Garnham, said:

“The IFS report looks at Universal Credit, but the Government’s overall record on welfare so far is even more worrying. Everyone currently on benefits, including all the winners and losers that IFS say will be created by Universal Credit, will be affected by the £18 billion of welfare cuts that the Government has already announced and plans to permanently retain in the new system, even after the deficit is gone.

"Children in lone parent households already face one of the highest risks of poverty and its wrong for these children to be hit by a systemic penalty in the Universal Credit. It is not fair for women who have been widowed or whose relationship with the father has ended to face an additional barrier to giving their child the same life chances as other children. For non-working partners in couples, the low work incentives under the Universal Credit plans are a problem too that must be addressed.

"The IFS does not highlight one of the most concerning design flaws that the Government must tackle. Payments in tax credits that are specifically for children’s needs and childcare currently go to the parent with care, usually the mother, but in the Universal Credit will be paid to the main earner because of the IT system. This transfer of thousands of pounds per family 'from the purse to the wallet' will threaten allocation within household budgets to meet children’s needs.

"We cannot have an IT glitch driving a change that will turn back the clock on women sharing in control of the household budget and may lead to less spending on children’s needs. A firm commitment is needed from government that a solution will be found."

 Notes for editors
  • CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.
  • CPAG is one of over 150 member organisations of the Campaign to End Child Poverty, campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goals of halving child poverty by 2010 and ending child poverty by 2020 are met.
For further information please contact:

Tim Nichols
CPAG Press Officer
Tel. 020 7812 5216 or 07816 909302