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May meets Tory MPs concerned about Universal Credit roll-out

Theresa May met with Conservative rebels at Downing Street today. Credit: PA

Conservative MPs concerned about the controversial roll-out of Universal Credit have held an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister.

As many as 25 Conservative members who are said to be considering refusing to back the government's flagship benefits policy, reports ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen.

Rebels are concerned over the six-week gap between signing up and receiving the benefit, which risks leaving many vulnerable people desperate and in debt.

None of the Tory MPs at the meeting would say what they discussed in their meeting with Mrs May.

But it seems possible there may be a compromise on the way.

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Stephen Crabb vows to implement Universal Credit

The new Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb has said he is committed to implementing the Government's controversial Universal Credit reform.

The single payment will replace six current benefits including Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance. However, critics say that it will hit the poor the hardest.

In his first speech since replacing Iain Duncan Smith, Stephen Crabb also said he believed in a fair society where it shouldn't matter what street you grow up on.

ITV News Social Affairs Editor Penny Marshall has visited Stephen Crabb's constituency in Pembrokeshire to hear what people think:

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Serwotka: 'Obvious that staff are under-resourced'

Almost four out of five Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union members did not feel there were enough staff and two thirds said they were frequently asked to work overtime, said the union.

It has long been obvious that staff are under-resourced and under-trained and that universal credit is at risk of collapse. The DWP cannot keep burying its head in the sand and hope these problems go away because they are only going to get worse if nothing is done.

– PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said

More than half said they did not think Universal Credit was an improvement for claimants.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "The PCS survey comprises of only 13% of our 2,700 staff working on Universal Credit. They chose to ignore staff in our Jobcentres when conducting this research providing a skewed unrepresentative sample of union members."

Flagship Universal Credit in 'disarray' study finds

A study has found that Universal Credit, one of the Government's flagship policies, is in "disarray", suffering from a lack of staff, poor training and inadequate IT.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka says staff are under-resourced. Credit: PA

A survey of around 400 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union showed that 90% believed expensive IT systems dealing with the benefit were less than adequate. Almost three quarters said working conditions were worse than in their previous role and four in five said the training was less than adequate to prepare them for working on the scheme.

'Universal Credit under budget and helping people'

Iain Duncan Smith has defended the Universal Credit scheme, claiming it is under budget and helping people find work quicker and earn more.

Iain Duncan Smith speaking to Andrew Marr. Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

The flagship scheme - which merges existing income-based benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and tax credits into a single payment - is due to be rolled out across the country tomorrow.

The Work and Pensions Secretary denied claims the flagship scheme was over budget, insisting his department was spending £600 million less on the programme than expected.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, he said Government research showed that those receiving the benefit were 5% more likely to find employment within four months than comparable JSA claimants.

Labour said the scheme was massively behind schedule and saving far less than expected, describing the roll-out as a "spiralling waste and delays".

Labour: IDS has broken his promises on Universal Credit

Labour have said the Government is falling far short of the numbers of people it said would be moved on to the new Universal Credit scheme.

Chris Bryant, shadow welfare reform minister, said: "Iain Duncan Smith has repeatedly broken his promises on Universal Credit. He promised a million people would be claiming Universal Credit by April 2014, but the latest figures show fewer than 15,000 people are claiming the new benefit.

"Today Iain Duncan Smith promised 100,000 people will be on Universal Credit by May 2015. But that's only around 1% of the total number of people who are expected to claim the new benefit."

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