Matt Rodda, the MP for Reading East urged Reading West MP, and Minister for Employment, Alok Sharma, to pause the roll out of Universal Credit until the problems with the benefit are fixed.
Speaking in a debate in Parliament, Matt highlighted that many people struggle to make a claim because applications are processed solely online, and Job Centres are not set up to provide the level of IT support that is needed.
Matt said, “Online applications cause enormous problems for people who are digitally excluded, for those who do not have a smartphone or a computer at home, and for those for whom English is a second language.”
“I am grateful for the work of my constituency staff and several local support and advice organisations that work tirelessly to plug the shortfall and help to process claims in the absence of adequate DWP support. Without those organisations, to which I pay tribute – they include Reading Citizens Advice Bureau, Woodley Citizens Advice Bureau, Reading Community Welfare Rights Unit and CommuniCare – hundreds of people would be falling through the cracks.”
Francesca Yates, Manager at CommuniCare, said, “At CommuniCare we are being overwhelmed by the number of clients needing support with making their UC application. There is no provision for the digitally excluded and those with additional needs or vulnerabilities who need support in making their on-line application.”
“We have recruited additional volunteers solely to support clients with their UC claims, this includes having CommuniCare advisers at the Reading Job Centre twice a week, supporting clients with their applications and the on-going management of their accounts, as the Job Centre do not provide this service! Without the support CommuniCare give, what would these clients do?”