The Government’s flagship new benefit scheme, Universal Credit, has been paused after a humiliating defeat in the House of Commons. Pioneered by Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan-Smith, the welfare scheme has had a disastrous launch, receiving criticism from MP’s and campaigners.
The motion to pause the rollout of the scheme was brought to the House of Commons by the Labour Party despite concerted attempts to prevent it by the Conservative Party.
The vote to pause the Universal Credit rollout was passed by 299 votes to 0. A single Conservative MP took part in the vote and that was to support the motion.
Hours before the defeat, Work and Pensions Secretary, David Gauke announced that the 55p per minute call charges for the Universal Credit helpline would be abolished. A decision which came after fierce criticism from the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The scrapping of the Universal Credit call costs also received support from Conservative MP’s concerned about the risks of full rollout of the scheme.
The decision by the Conservative Party to abstain from the vote was met with criticism from the Speaker of the House, John Bercow.