By Mohan Sen
The Labour Party’s work and pensions spokesperson Jonathan Reynolds has attacked the government’s 1 September £20pw cut to Universal Credit (UC), and called the UC system “fatally flawed” — but said vanishingly little about would what Labour would do differently.
Reynolds refused to pledge that Labour would reverse the cut, let alone indicate a higher level of Universal Credit. His defence of not being able to set a figure so far from an election is an absurd evasion.
Reynold’s “proposals” seem to focus almost exclusively on reducing the “taper” through which those in work have their benefit reduced as their income increases. However he also refused to indicate how much the taper should be changed.
Much left-wing criticism has focused on the fact that Labour is no longer calling to “scrap” Universal Credit. A better focus might be on its lack of substantial policies for transforming the benefit system, and what policies we want to see.
In addition to the absence of anything like a clear stance on the level of UC, Labour is saying nothing about “conditionality”, the mechanism through which claimants are denied benefits and more generally harassed and brow-beaten to make them more likely to stop claiming.