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Opinion: We must stop Universal Credit madness

PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 October 2017

From left, Romford MP Andrew Rosindell, Hornchurch and Upminster MP Julia Dockerill and Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas. Picture Hayley Anderson

From left, Romford MP Andrew Rosindell, Hornchurch and Upminster MP Julia Dockerill and Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas. Picture Hayley Anderson

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Benefit claimants are facing New Year hell as Universal Credit rolls out in our community. More than 20,000 people in my constituency of Rainham, South Hornchurch, Elm Park and Dagenham face, literally, being without any cash.

That’s because this Tory government has introduced a grotesque system that pays out the new benefit a minimum of six weeks in arrears – in some cases 12.

That’s two or three months without cash for thousands of families, plunging residents into abject poverty.

The BBC has reported 84per cent of Universal Credit claimants are in rent arrears.

The Trussell Trust says foodbank referrals have gone through the roof, with one 67pc up. Yet the Tory government insists on continuing the next roll-out to job centres across the UK – while blithely suggesting people take out loans or go begging to their landlords.

The roll-out locally – March in Havering – could scarcely come at a worse time with so many people cashless after Christmas. Payday loan sharks must be rubbing their hands

in glee.

That’s why I joined my Labour colleagues in bringing a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday calling for an urgent halt to the roll-out.

The government faced a potentially humiliating defeat with even some of its own MPs voting with Labour.

So instead of letting democracy have its day, they ordered their MPs not to take part in the vote. Like a bunch of stroppy schoolchildren, they picked up their goal posts and took them home.

But this is serious. This is the biggest issue of the day – bigger even than Brexit for millions of working families and jobseekers in England.

The Tories have shown utter contempt for our democracy. But I promise you this: we are not going to let them get away with this. We have to stop this vindictive madness.

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