As reported in the Daily Mirror and Barnsley Chronicle, on December 2nd Stephanie revealed that the Tories are secretly pausing the disastrous roll out of Universal Credit in Theresa May’s constituency.
They are also delaying the benefits shake-up in the constituencies of a string of top Tories, including that of Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke , under fire First Secretary of State Damian Green and UC’s architect Iain Duncan Smith.
The announcement was slipped out the day after Chancellor Philip Hammond refused to pause the programme in the rest of the country.
Stephanie, whose constituents in Barnsley East are struggling with the impact of UC, said: “The very people who dreamt up the whole idea and made such a mess of it are putting off the consequences in their own seats. It’s one rule for them, another for the rest.”
Last week the Government caved in to pressure to cut the waiting time for first payments from six to five weeks.
But it will be too late for struggling families at Christmas as the change will not come in until February.
The move means that all three Work and Pensions Secretaries who designed and implemented the Universal Credit across much of the country will all see it delayed for their own seats - until the reduced waiting time and other reforms are in place.
The government has consistently refused to "pause and fix" the scheme which has seen families pushed in to debt and rent arrears - despite losing a vote called by the Labour Party to do so.
The document titled “Universal Credit Transition Rollout Schedule” was published on the DWP website the day after the budget, replacing a previous version.
It lists the point at which UC will be rolled out in each JobCentre.
However, an analysis of the new timetable for, comparing it to the previous rollout schedule, showed that Maidenhead, Ashford, Hemel Hempstead, Walthamstow and Redbridge Job Centres Plus will all now delay the roll out by three months.
These cover the bulk of the constituencies of Maidenhead, Ashford, South West Hertfordshire and Chingford and Woodford Green.
Only South Oxhey, a small, working class and generally Labour-voting area of David Gauke’s constituency will continue to have Universal Credit imposed on time.
The other Job Centre Plus in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, which serves Labour seats rather than Iain Duncan Smith’s seat, will implement UC earlier.
When questioned on the decision in parliament David Gauke told MPs: “We are rolling out Universal Credit in a way that is safe, we are making adjustments as and when we need to but I am pleased to say the date on which UC will be fully rolled out remains unchanged March 2022 if it could be earlier I would make it earlier but that is the safest point at which we can do it.”
Stephanie Peacock had asked the minister: “I note in his department’s recent statement last week the right honorable gentleman postponed the rollout of Universal Credit in his constituency and those of the prime minister and the first secretary of state.
“As he’s in the mood to reconsider the policy, can he do the same and pause the rollout of Universal Credit for the people of Barnsley East?”