Universal Credit changes delight MSP

Tory list MSP Michelle Ballantyne.
Tory list MSP Michelle Ballantyne.

Scotland South List MSP Michelle Ballantyne has welcomed the Work and Pensions Secretary’s changes to Universal Credit .

Ms Ballantyne, the social security spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives, welcomed Amber Rudd’s announcement last week of a new pilot scheme to provide more frequent payments for new claimants, a new online system for private landlords and a more flexible approach to childcare provisions.

The Work and Pensions Secretary announced that children born before April 2017 would be supported by Universal Credit, a change from previous rules which said the limit would apply retrospectively to these children. The move is expected to help around 15,000 families a year.

Ms Ballantyne said: “I’m delighted that the Secretary of State has announced this raft of new measures to improve Universal Credit.

“Having raised these issues with the Department of Work and Pensions several times myself I am pleased to see the UK Government is listening and responding to the concerns of MPs and MSPs alike.

“These improvements not only support 15,000 families, they make Universal Credit fairer, more compassionate and more responsive to the needs of claimants.

“The decision to lift the two-child limit for children born before April 2017 is the right move and I believe it is the fair thing to do.

“Other changes ensure that women receive improved support as well as helping landlords support tenants claiming universal credit by making it simpler for them to request direct rent payments.

“These changes are welcome improvements which will provide a better system for those claiming benefits, as well as supporting families across Midlothian.”

Ms Rudd outlined how she would be seeking powers for a pilot programme for managed migration, the process by which claimants are moved from the old ‘legacy’ benefits system to Universal Credit, which will begin in July.

She said that this would provide the Department of Work and Pensions with the best opportunity to learn how to provide the best support before she returned to Parliament to seek permission for future migration.

Ms Rudd reaffirmed her belief in Universal Credit, saying that it is working for the vast majority of people and reiterating that work gives purpose, dignity and security. She added that welfare systems should encourage an easy progression into work rather than trapping claimants.