Gerald Jones, MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, is calling on the UK Government to urgently reform the benefits system Universal Credit and stop it forcing people further into poverty, following the news that the number of claimants of the benefit in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney was up by 500 this month compared to February 2019.
Latest statistics from the House of Commons Library indicate that 2,045 people in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney were claiming Universal Credit at the end of January 2020, counting for 4.3% of people in the constituency, compared to a rate of 3.1% in Wales and 2.9% UK-wide.
The percentage of people in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney constituency claiming the benefit in January 2019 was 3.5%, with figures for January 2020 indicating an increase of almost 1%.
Due to the way the benefit system is administered, more and more of some of the most vulnerable people in Wales and across the UK are being pushed further into poverty and kept on Universal Credit rather than being lifted out of it, with policies such as an initial five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment and a strict repayment period for any advance payments meaning some people face eviction or using food banks as a result of being forced to rely on the benefit.
Commenting, Gerald said:
“These new figures indicate that something is clearly wrong with the Universal Credit system, which is supposed to lift people in our communities out of poverty rather than force them further into it, and the UK Government clearly doesn’t understand the scale of the hardship it’s causing with Universal Credit.
“This is hardship that I seem from the almost daily issues raised with me by constituents across Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, and the Government must act now to find a solution to this shambolic and punishing system, for the many thousands of people in Wales and across the UK who do not have the time to wait.”