As most of us are aware, a new claimant on Universal Credit has to wait at least six (6) weeks before their first payment. Given the majority of UC claimants are unlikely to be wealthy, or even able to cope with waiting for well over a month before being paid, the outcome is frequently that they are driven into rent arrears and debt, not to mention the emotional strain of being placed in such a position.
In one of the excellent ‘number crunching’ mini-features in a recent Private Eye which I spotted today this appalling situation was contrasted with the fact that a new MP waits a maximum of one (1) week before they meet ‘…a “dedicated independent parliamentary standards authority election contact”, [are] provided with a salary advance and shown how to claim housing costs in advance.’ (PE, 1455, p.11).
Given MPs are hardly likely to be short of money – indeed many would be classed as well off, and a good number who voted for and continue to support UC could be classed as rich – and all of them are likely to come from a background where monthly salary and budgeting is the norm, I found myself pondering whether this might be one of the most egregious examples of one law for the well-off and another for the poor I’ve ever come across.
The ultimate cost in misery, penury, ill health and premature death of Universal Credit will eventually become a public policy scandal the like of which we’ve seldom seen (and that’s saying something). In the meantime, my capacity to be shocked by the pure selfishness and self interest of politicians – by which I largely mean those on the right – which I took to be pretty much exhausted after so many years of Tory rule, has now hit subterranean levels!