Neighbouring Suffolk MPs joined forces to raise their collective concerns around the wider rollout of Universal Credit here in Suffolk later this year.
The Westminster Hall debate, secured by Stephen Lloyd, MP, was an opportunity for Members to examine the effect of Universal Credit on the Private Rented Sector and in taking an intervention to his speech, Mr Lloyd took the opportunity to welcome Dr Poulter upon his return to Parliament.
Recognising that the Government has already demonstrated that it is listening and adapting to feedback around Universal Credit as part of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement in November 2017, Dr Dan Poulter, and Member of Parliament for Waveney, Mr Peter Aldous, took the opportunity to ask that as the wider rollout of Universal Credit progresses, the Government continues to listen to feedback and to make changes to assist those who may be struggling with the transition, as well as for new claimants. Also in attendance at the debate was the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, Caroline Dinenage MP - both Dr Poulter and Mr Aldous were broadly reassured by the Minister's comments, whilst recognising that there still remains some work to do before full implementation of the new system.
Speaking immediately after the debate, Dr Dan said "With some one in five households being in the private rental sector it is vital that we do all we can to ensure a smooth transition during the implementation of Universal Credit. Currently some landlords in the private rental sector are fearful of offering tenancies to those in receipt of benefits, but there can also be a tendency to be cautious when considering those on low incomes, for fear that they too may find themselves in need of benefits. There is still work to be done, but I am reassured that the Government is listening."
Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, said "The full rollout of Universal Credit in Lowestoft commenced in May 2016 and significant problems were encountered including delays in rental payments. The position as a result of collaborative working between Job Centre Plus, Citizens Advice and local landlords has improved and the changes announced in the November Budget were very welcome."
There is still work to be done to address the ongoing concerns of the private rental sector and this debate was helpful in highlighting these. Dr Dan and Mr Aldous will continue to work with local organisations, bringing their concerns to the attention of Government so as to ensure that Universal Credit achieves its goals.
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Written Answers — Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government: Planning Authorities (22 Feb 2018)
Daniel Poulter: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether he plans to introduce penalties for local planning authorities that fail to introduce a five-year land supply.
Free School Meals/Pupil Premium: Eligibility (6 Feb 2018)
Daniel Poulter: Does the hon. Lady agree that the more we spend on the administration costs of the proposed system, the less money will go towards the pupils? Having an easier system would mean we could spend more of the money on what it should be spent on: the meals that we want children to have.