Universal Credit is "failing millions of people", especially the vulnerable, according to a new report from the Lords' Economic Affairs Committee. It criticised its design, blaming Universal Credit for "soaring rent arrears and the use of food banks".
The Lords' report said cuts to social security budgets over the last 10 years had caused "widespread poverty and hardship". As a result, the committee said Universal Credit needed "urgent investment just to catch up and provide claimants with adequate income".
The committee also criticised the way payments were calculated, claiming the system could result in "large fluctuations in income month-to-month, making it extremely difficult for claimants to budget".
Tory peer Lord Forsyth, who chairs the committee, said the system "fails to provide a dependable safety net" for those in need.
"The mechanics of Universal Credit do not reflect the reality of people's lives," he added. "It is designed around an idealised claimant and rigid, inflexible features of the system are harming a range of claimant groups, including women, disabled people and the vulnerable."
He continued, "It needs rebalancing, with more carrot and less stick, particularly as large numbers of claimants will have ended up on it because of events completely out of their control. "