Amber Rudd makes strongest call yet for 5 week Universal Credit wait to be cut

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Tory welfare chief Amber Rudd has publicly demanded billions of pounds for benefit claimants in the Autumn spending review.

She repeated her call for the Tories’ cruel four-year benefit freeze to stop as planned next April – a move that would put more than £1billion in benefit claimants’ pockets – after neither Boris Johnson nor Jeremy Hunt committed to bring it to an end.

And she confirmed in the strongest terms yet that she would like to see the waiting time for Universal Credit cut.

She told a Politico event: “I would like to see if we can get more money into Universal Credit.”

The Cabinet minister also made a full-throated pitch to keep her post at DWP in a Cabinet reshuffle, saying: “I love this job”.

Ms Rudd – who backed Jeremy Hunt in the race – said she wanted to keep her job

 

Ms Rudd admitted she has been pushing to see people get Universal Credit faster after Jeremy Hunt revealed she lobbied him to cut the 5-week wait for the benefit.

She said it would take public money, but added: “I’m talking to Jeremy Hunt to see what we can do and how we will address that.

“A shorter wait would be good.”

Ms Rudd said advances were already available and the DWP had made several improvements, such as extra run-on payments of housing benefit.

She said the five-week wait was introduced for a “good reason” to “mimic” pay packets at the end of the month.

But she added: “For some people that end of the month is just really hard.”

And she called for the freeze on most working-age benefits, which has cost some families more than £1,000 a year, to end as planned in 2020.

She said: “For the past two years we’ve had inflation largely being outpaced by wages.

“It’s time to end the benefits freeze. Because otherwise with inflation up where it is, it’s too difficult for people on benefits that are effectively taking too much of a cut.”

secretly lobbied a contender for Prime Minister to cut waiting times for Universal Credit, it emerged today.

Behind the scenes Ms Rudd has been lobbying

 

Jeremy Hunt revealed the Tory welfare chief “persuaded” him the five-week wait for people’s first payment should be axed.

The leadership candidate’s surprise vow – which would be a boost for millions of struggling Brits – came after months of pressure to cut waiting times.

And crucially it goes further than what the Work and Pensions Secretary has said in public.

On Sunday, when asked if cutting the five-week time was a priority, she said she was “much more content” with waiting times than in the past.

But less than 36 hours later Mr Hunt told a Tory leadership debate: “She has persuaded me that we do need to end the five week wait before people can claim Universal Credit .

Ms Rudd had not had a meeting with Mr Hunt’s rival Boris Johnson

 

“I think [it] is the right reform but I think had unintended consequences when people had that wait early on.”

It is understood Jeremy Hunt backer Ms Rudd has not yet met his leadership rival Boris Johnson – who refused even to pledge he’ll end the cruel benefit freeze – to discuss the issue.



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