Heidi Allen MP, Committee Member, said:
‘One of the key improvements of Universal Credit over legacy benefit systems is the way it seeks to proactively support individuals. So it can't be right that payments are made by default as a single block to a household. In the 21st Century women deserve to be treated as independent citizens, with their own aspirations, responsibilities and challenges. Good Government develops solutions that are dynamic and responsive to the individual as well as offering value for the tax payer, so I urge the DWP to show what I know to be true - that it can deliver both.’
Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
‘This is not the 1950s. Men and women work independently, pay taxes as individuals, and should each have an independent income. Not only does UC’s single household payment bear no relation to the world of work, it is out of step with modern life and turns back the clock on decades of hard won equality for women. The Government must acknowledge the increased risk of harm to claimants living with domestic abuse it creates by breaching that basic principle, and take the necessary steps to reduce it.’
Refuge, the national charity for women and children experiencing domestic violence, has welcomed the report. Its Chief Executive, Sandra Horley CBE, said:
‘We are hugely encouraged that the Committee has recognised Refuge’s argument that single Universal Credit payments represent a real risk for survivors of abuse. We now urge the Government to follow through and make the necessary amendments to protect women and their children from economic abuse. It is essential that the system does not roll back years of hard-won women’s equality, limiting their financial independence by handing the purse-strings to the ‘man of the house’ and putting women and children at risk.’
Read the report in full here.