A BENEFITS system which leaves people worse off than they were before is a broken benefits system.

Universal Credit is designed to replace six existing benefits – Housing Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support, Income Support, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit – with one monthly payment. It aims to simplify the benefits system, help people of working age on low income to earn more and encourage people to move into work

Sounds good but, according to a damning report by the National Audit Office last week, Universal Credit is poor value for money. And the human cost of this inadequate benefits system is even worse. Research found that 86 per cent of tenants in receipt of Universal Credit were in arrears.

According to the Child Poverty Action Group, one million more children will be living in poverty by the end of the decade as a result of Universal Credit.

Delays to payments mean that half of all people receiving Universal Credit are running up debt they cannot afford just to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head. This complex and inefficient system is failing and it is the poorest in our society who are paying the price.

So too are dozens of charities which have become the backstop for desperate people looking for help and local authorities which provide assistance and advice. No wonder critics say the roll out should be paused.

The DWP insists that it has a “listen and learn” philosophy, but the Government only hears what it wants and has learnt nothing.