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Dozens protest against Universal Credit roll-out in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 14:04 27 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:52 27 October 2018

Mark Harrison from Disabled People Against Cuts addresses the crowd at City Hall Norwich
Picture: Neil Didsbury

Mark Harrison from Disabled People Against Cuts addresses the crowd at City Hall Norwich Picture: Neil Didsbury

Archant

More than 150 people gathered outside City Hall in Norwich this weekend to protest against the roll-out of Universal Credit.

The rally on Saturday, which comes before the budget on Monday, was organised by Norfolk Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and joined by members of the Labour and Green parties, as well as the Public and Commercial Services Union.

Banners carried by protestors said “stop and scrap Universal Credit” and warned that cuts kill.

Before the speeches, a band of four musicians called The Red Flags played songs by The Clash and British folk musician Robb Johnson.

“Be reasonable,” they sang, “and demand the impossible now.”

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis voices his concerns over the Universal Credit scheme
Picture: Neil DidsburyNorwich South MP Clive Lewis voices his concerns over the Universal Credit scheme Picture: Neil Didsbury

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said that his party would “scrap universal credit and replace it with something that is based on people’s humanity, on people being treated as human beings”.

“It will be a new system fit for the 21st century, a safety net for the 21st century,” he added

The new scheme sees six benefits, including Jobseekers’ Allowance, tax credits and housing benefit, rolled into one payment, which is paid in arrears every month.

“The government are in complete denial,” Mr Lewis said. “Yesterday the employment minister said that universal credit recipients and workers in job centres are happy with the roll-out of universal credit.”

A sizeable crowd gathered outside City Hall in Norwich to oppose the scheme. Picture: Neil DidsburyA sizeable crowd gathered outside City Hall in Norwich to oppose the scheme. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Mark Harrison, of DPAC, said: “Where universal credit has been rolled out child hunger goes through the roof. The use of food banks goes up four five six times. Evictions go up. In Great Yarmouth when they did the pilot one housing agency reported and 85pc increase of people subject to evictions.”

Great Yarmouth was picked as one of the pilot areas for the system by the Department of Work and Pensions, but there were problems with claimants going without income for weeks and landlords not receiving rent.

“Disabled people have been at the sharp end of austerity cuts,” Mr Harrison said. “We’ve been hit disproportionately by austerity cuts at every level.”

The government has previously said Universal Credit will replace an “out of date, complex benefits system with cliff edges”, which disincentivised work and could “trap” people in unemployment.

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