We have heard a lot over the last two years about how Jeremy Corbyn does not play by the rules; does the other thing, the principled thing; is not only different from previous party leaders and other politicians, but also better than them, in fact, he is not really a politician at all. However, Jeremy Corbyn has already indicated that a Labour Government led by him will keep Universal Credit.
Labour has to make Universal Credit work in order to find a chunk of the monies to fund universal free university tuition from Day One in Government.
Universal Credit must work or else John McDonnell will have to go back on his pledge to not increase Income Tax and National Insurance on those with incomes of less than £80,000 per year, 95% of the total in the United Kingdom, during the life of a Corbyn led Labour Government.
Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge of universal free university tuition is a black hole around which Labour policy is being bent. So far it has resulted in the announcements that both the benefits freeze and the benefit cap will stay in place, indefinitely; that only a derisory amount of money, at most an extra £500 million per year, will be spent on Sure Start, an amount that will not even fully reverse the savage Tory cuts in the programme since May 2010, let alone reboot it and, since the General Election, we have been told that Labour will make Universal Credit work.
The working age poor and their children will, under Labour, pay the price for universal free university tuition as today, under the Conservatives, they pay the price for austerity.
To add insult to injury, universal free university tuition will, on balance, probably result in fewer youths from lower income backgrounds going to university than do now. The proportion of youths from low income backgrounds going to university has actually increased since tuition fees were introduced.
The universal free university tuition policy, if enacted, would slash the price of tuition to zero and result in a Government imposed cap on university places. Demand for university places would rise as the supply of them becomes fixed.
Those with the sharpest elbows will benefit from universal free university tuition and such folk rarely come from the working class.
Jeremy Corbyn feels a great victory has been scored with the recent announcement that calls to the Universal Credit helpline will be made free.
Jeremy, people will still be making the calls, because Universal Credit is flawed.
The cross-party Parliamentary Work and Pensions Select Committee thinks,
“The baked-in six-week wait for the first payment in universal credit is a major obstacle to the success of the policy.”
Chaps, that is the target date for making a payment and, if there are continuing errors in setting up claims, and there will be, then shortening the time in which to make a payment does not address the fact that Universal Credit is inherently flawed.
There is a major outbreak of cognitive dissonance raging in the House of Commons and its cause is Universal Credit. The project has developed a life of its own, a self justifying existence. It must succeed, it will succeed.
The most difficult decision in project management, probably the most flunked, is to say enough is enough. This project is never going to deliver on time, on cost and, most importantly of all, to specification.
“Since it was launched in 2013, universal credit has been riddled with colossal design flaws, with delays announced seven times and a mounting price tag of £16bn. It’s the same “act first, think later” approach to so-called “welfare reform” that is seeing the Conservatives simultaneously order the mass retesting of every disabled person on out-of-work sickness benefits.“
“About 8% of current benefits claimants are on UC, which will increase to 10% by the end of January. The rollout is (now) due to be completed by 2022.”
We should cut our losses and reflect on the experience, before deciding what to do next.
I am a big fan of evidence based policy making, but experts make politicians like Michael Gove and Jeremy Corbyn uncomfortable. They rarely view the world as binary and have unsettling takes on matters such as BREXIT/LEXIT for which Gove and Corbyn have hankered for decades.
Universal Credit is fundamentally flawed. You do not need a degree to see that (and Jeremy Corbyn does not have one). You do need the courage to say enough is enough, the experiment has failed, that Labour in Government will do the other thing and not tinker with Universal Credit, but scrap it.
Alas, in his own way, Jeremy Corbyn is as arrogant as Iain Duncan Smith is in his. Neither can be wrong. One has even always been on the right side of history, if his most ardent fans are to be believed.
The working age poor are suffering, because of Iain Duncan Smith’s fundamentally flawed Universal Credit. They will continue to suffer under a Government led by their self styled champion, one Jeremy Corbyn.