TORY rebels have called for a halt to Universal Credit to stop it becoming another Poll Tax.
Twelve MPs have written to the Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke demanding a pause in the roll out of the welfare reform, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Universal Credit was championed by David Cameron and combines six different benefits into a single payment and aims to encourage people back into work.
The group of MPs, led by Heidi Allen, have allegedly warned the government to halt the welfare overhaul due to concerns that claimants are missing out on money when they switch from their existing benefit to the new one and fears the scheme may become as damaging as Poll Tax.
They want Mr Gauke to delay a planned accelerated expansion from five job centres a month to 50 job centres a month.
A decision had been expected in the next few weeks. but rumours of a backbench revolt has forced the Tories to rethink.
The Conservatives have been plotting a benefit overhaul since the 2010 general election.
On Thursday night, a senior Labour MP warned Universal Credit scheme problems could be as damaging as Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax.
Frank Field, the Labour chairman of the House of Commons’ Work and Pensions committee, told the Telegraph: “The idea that there should now be a mega rollout should fill him and Tory MPs with horror as they see a rerun of the Poll Tax because eight million households are involved.
“The Government needs to agree a Christmas truce because otherwise your newspaper will be filled with stories of people starving over Christmas.
“The advice agencies will be closed. There will be no money coming from Universal Credit.”
Citizens Advice, which helps people navigate the benefits system, has warned the acceleration of the regime – in its current state – is a “disaster waiting to happen”
There are currently 590,000 people on Universal Credit in England and Wales, with around 50,000 new claims each month.
Ministers are planning to move around 12million people across to the new scheme over the next five years.
More than one in ten applying for Universal Credit turned to Citizens Advice for help last month.
But Iain Duncan Smith said on Thursday night the Government should go ahead with the acceleration of the roll-out of Universal Credit.
He said: “There is no reason to delay or stop this – the Government already has all the mechanisms to resolve it and that is what ‘test and learn’ is about.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said the Government is continuing to roll-out Universal Credit in a “safe and controlled” way.