Labour bid to force publication of Universal Credit reviews

Updated: 

Labour is to seek to force the Government to publish a set of reports on the operation of Universal Credit which it believes may bolster its call for a pause in the introduction of the flagship benefit.

Jeremy Corbyn's party will call a vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday to make a "humble address" to the Queen requesting that she order minister to release Project Assessment Reviews conducted into UC, which is gradually being introduced across the country to replace six older benefits.

Labour press release
(Labour press release)

The arcane procedure is being invoked for the second time in just over a month, following its successful use to force ministers to release 58 papers on the potential impact of Brexit on UK industry.

In that case, Commons Speaker John Bercow backed Labour's argument that - unlike most motions tabled by the opposition - a vote on a humble address is binding on the Government.

Labour said the Government had so far ignored a ruling in August by the Information Commissioner that five of the reports, drafted between 2012-15, should be released to campaigners because their publication would be in the public interest.

The party will seek to force a vote requiring the release of these papers, drawn up by the Government's Major Projects Authority, as well as any later reviews.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams said: "These reports could further expose the implementation flaws, design failures and the impacts of major cuts to Universal Credit, which is pushing people into poverty, debt and arrears.

Labour policy
Debbie Abrahams is trying to force the Government to release secret papers on Universal Credit (Danny Lawson/PA)

"Labour has long called for a pause and fix of this programme, but the Chancellor failed to act in the Budget, meaning thousands of families will face a miserable Christmas.

"The Government should have abided by the Information Commissioner and released five of these reports into the public domain. Having already ignored Parliament's unanimous approval of Labour's motion to pause Universal Credit, the Government is now once again riding roughshod over the democratic process.

"Labour is calling for the release of this catalogue of failures on Universal Credit, to ensure that the lessons are learned from this Government's mismanagement.

"Labour is committed to transforming Universal Credit, so that it meets its original ambitions of simplifying social security, reducing child poverty and making work pay."

3 million working families are expected to be an average of £2500 a year worse-off under the Tories' #UniversalCredit scheme. #Budget2017pic.twitter.com/ufamfJi5pc

-- The Labour Party (@UKLabour) November 22, 2017

Jeremy Corbyn urged Philip Hammond to pause the rollout of Universal Credit at the time of last month's Budget.