South Suffolk MP defends ideas behind Universal Credit

Pictured: James Cartlidge (South Suffolk MP).
Pictured: James Cartlidge (South Suffolk MP).

MP for South Suffolk James Cartlidge says he will be keeping a close eye on the rollout of Universal Credit in the area, but added he believed the system would give a platform to help people move up, rather than depend on the government.

The new system, which is designed to make claiming benefits simpler by merging six existing benefits into one payment, began its rollout in south Suffolk last week.

Nationally, the rollout has faced criticism due to people facing delays in receiving their payments and errors in processing some claims.

In a parliamentary debate on Universal Credit on Tuesday, Mr Cartlidge said he was sensitive to the issues people are facing.

However, he voiced his support for the system, and argued it would help to get away from an “era of benefit dependency” and encourage greater productivity, citing examples from his time in business.

“I was running a small business. I had members of staff who would refuse to work more than 16 hours because they would lose their tax credits, or I even had a case where someone declined their pay rise because of the impact it would have on their tax credit,” he said.

“The idea that everybody should be dependent on the state — I fundamentally disagree with that.

“It’s difficult when people have been made dependent to get them away from that. A system like Universal Credit does that.

“Of course it’s a tricky process. But if you look at its benefits, it encourages people to work more hours to make the most of their talents instead of relying on the state. That’s the sort of system we want.

“All this stuff may not be easy or palatable. But it may move us to a point where, instead of flat wages and flat productivity, British people get a fair chance. They do their bit and we back them.

“I give credit to the government for having the courage to take these unpopular decisions. Without that, the country cannot move forward.”