Stephen Crabb has today confirmed his commitment to rolling out universal credit, dashing the hopes of activists who believed that a new secretary of state might have the courage to ditch the disastrously over budget and under-performing benefit.
In a speech that had been billed as setting out Crabb’s vision for the future, there was very little in the way of detail and a huge amount of sentiment and platitudes.
Standing in front of a Capita logo, Crabb spoke of his commitment to seeing UC rolled out nationally and explained that he believes it changes claimants’ behaviour:
“And to those who are sceptical of Universal Credit, I just say this: ‘look at the evidence so far’. When you compare those who are already receiving Universal Credit to a similar cohort receiving previous Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will see people on Universal Credit:
are spending roughly 50% more time looking for work
they are 8 percentage points more likely to be in work
and when they are in work, they’re more likely to be earning a higher wage”
There was no mention of the bedroom tax and absolutely no hint of reversing the cuts to employment and support allowance.
Instead, there was a huge emphasis on getting sick and disabled people into work:
“And that, finally, brings me to an area of reform that is another one of my priorities:
“And that is supporting disabled people and people with health conditions into work.”
Crabb went on to explain that:
“We need to recognise the role that work plays in supporting good health. And importantly, that a health condition or disability needn’t be a barrier to work.
“To do that, the workplace, the welfare system, the health service will all need to work much better together….to help people stay healthy in the first place. If someone gets sick, they need the right support so they can stay close to the world of work and re-join it as quickly as possible.
“It’s already clear to me that there are lots of interesting ideas emerging. I look forward, with my ministerial team, to listening to all of the ideas and views and discussing them with disability groups, employers and the health, care and welfare sectors.”
What those ‘interesting ideas’ might be we don’t know as yet. But there are probably very few claimants who think that they will turn out to be good news.
Sadly, it looks very much like it will be a case of ‘business as usual’ for the DWP under Stephen Crabb.
You can read Crabb’s whole speech here.