The voluntary sector should not be helping the government implement the iniquitous and inhumane restrictions on benefits represented by Universal Credit. It is not the role of the voluntary advice organisations to take government money to implement something that is fundamentally against the best interests of those they are supposed to be supporting – GMLC Chair John Nicholson
Exactly one year ago, we released our statement on the Universal Credit rollout. We were approached by a local Job Centre, who asked if we could provide facilities and support for Universal Credit applications. This did not sit well with us, and we carefully considered why.
We stand alongside people who’re fighting the DWP’s hostile environment. We have reclaimed over one million pounds falsely denied to disabled claimants in Greater Manchester, whilst demanding that the Government is held to account for the policies that are preventing disabled and unwell people from getting the disability payments they are entitled to. We are independent. Our legal services are free, professional, and face to face.
Therefore, our response was clear: the government cannot rely on the voluntary sector to pick up the pieces. For example, if Universal Credit is so convoluted and ineffective that those implement it ask charities for help, then it should not have been implemented at all. Our role is to publicly challenge the injustices of this government’s welfare regime.
GMLC’s statement, October 12th 2017: “We will not be complicit”
At the Greater Manchester Law Centre, we help people to navigate the existing benefits system. Vulnerable members of our community are struggling to access the support they deserve because of long and intimidating application forms and convoluted tribunal processes. In our first year, we helped clients with lost benefits to claim back £370,000, which demonstrates that many people are having to fight protracted battles to receive benefits that they should never have been denied in the first place. The consequences of an ineffective welfare system can be devastating, and Universal Credit appears destined to worsen the situation.
As a voluntary sector organisation, we are steadfast in our stance on Universal Credit: we will not assist in its implementation. If Universal Credit is so convoluted and ineffective that voluntary sector organisations are relied upon, then it should not be implemented at all. For example, a local Job Centre approached us earlier this year to ask if we would provide computers and supervisors to help people keep online journals for Universal Credit. Our response is clear: this is not the role of the voluntary sector. We will not be complicit in a scheme which results in further adversity and punishment for vulnerable people. We therefore refuse to facilitate the Universal Credit rollout.
Contact: Roz Burgin and Astrid Johnson, Development Workers, development[at]gmlaw.org.uk
Tel: 0161 769 2244
Registered Charity Number 1170317
Registered Company 09698401
The Greater Manchester Law Centre is a member of the Law Centres Network, www.lawcentres.org.uk.
Manchester Evening News: Special Report on Universal Credit roll-out http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/who-going-feed-kids-stress-13739245
GMLC reclaim over one million pounds falsely denied to disabled claimants https://www.gmlaw.org.uk/2018/09/14/one-million-pounds/
The government has created a “hostile environment” for disabled people, new research shows https://www.gmlaw.org.uk/2018/07/16/hostile-environment/
Support GMLC today https://www.gmlaw.org.uk/donations-standing-orders/