I continue to campaign for fuller support for people struggling to pay funeral costs. It is a particularly tragic consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic that there will be more bereaved people trying to meet costs for funerals while being in financial difficulty because of the crisis itself. We have asked the Government to consider widening eligibility for the Funeral Expenses Payment and look at where it was falling short in meeting costs. People should not be pushed into hardship for putting their loved ones to rest in this difficult time.
On pensions, I’ve been doing a lot of work around so called “Superfunds”, which are large pots of money seeking to take over defined benefit pension schemes. Small, underfunded pensions schemes are a problem, but these would be profit-making funds, and therefore it is essential that they are properly regulated. The government have failed to do so, and both myself and the Governor of the Bank of England have raised this with them. I also had a productive meeting with Unite on various aspects of pensions policy.
Meanwhile, I spoke out against a government fudge on legacy benefits, affecting people who have not yet moved to Universal Credit. What they have announced does not even begin to paper over the cracks in a failing system. People transitioning from legacy benefits to Universal Credit still face at least a five-week wait for their first payment. Given legacy benefits are unjustly not being uprated in line with Universal Credit, this ‘run-on’ payment at a lower rate and covering only two weeks will leave a significant gap in support. Rather than trying to incentivise people to move on to it, the Government should fix the fundamental problems with Universal Credit like the five-week wait for the first payment and the punitive savings limit.