Following the recent motion about the introduction of Universal Credit agreed by the Great Yarmouth Borough Council, I have sent the following letter in response:
“Dear Mr Hodds
Thank you for your email inviting me to attend a meeting to discuss Universal Credit.
I want to be clear that since the beginning of the roll-out of the Universal Credit system in Great Yarmouth I have worked with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Great Yarmouth Borough Council to ensure that support for the council is in place to work to develop this policy delivery. It is important that we get Universal Credit fully rolled out to ensure we continue to get more people back into work and ensure fairness to our hard working tax payers.
I have facilitated meetings between Great Yarmouth Borough Council and the DWP, including a meeting between myself, the DWP lead for our region and the Leader of the Council, and as part of that, the DWP lead has offered to attend a meeting with councillors. We also noted at our meeting the work Great Yarmouth Borough Council had done to identify the fact that many of the issues raised by the Labour Party and others and linked to the Universal Credit roll out, in fact, were not related to the roll out and predate this.
I have never been tempted by the political games that the Labour Party and UKIP seem so keen to play locally, and my focus has always been on the residents of Great Yarmouth and their needs. I am working with and helping a number of residents with Universal Credit queries or issues and will continue to do just that. A public meeting does not help specific cases, where data protection and privacy are important to the individuals concerned. If councillors have cases relating to Universal Credit that they are unable to help with then I would welcome them forwarding the cases and the details to me so I can help and support those residents directly. I look forward to hearing from any councillor who needs my help.”