Funding for Universal Credit was "squeezed too much", the former UK Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb has said.

Speaking to BBC Wales' Sunday Politics, Mr Crabb said: "I really passionately believe in Universal Credit.

"I want it to work but the secret to its success is how well it is funded. We have squeezed it too much."

Mr Crabb, the MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, served as UK Work and Pensions Secretary in 2016 before resigning from the post after he admitted to sending messages of a sexual nature to a 19-year-old woman he had interviewed for a job.

The UK Government introduced Universal Credit in 2013, combining six other benefits - including job seekers allowance, child tax credit and housing benefit - into one single monthly payment.

The scheme has long been considered controversial. One critism during its rollout was highlighted by official statistics showing that 24% of new claimants were waiting longer than six weeks to be paid in full, causing people who received the benefit to to fall behind on rent payments.

A freeze on working-age benefits was also imposed by the UK Government between April 2016 and April 2020.


Last week, the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced he was extending a £20-a-month uplift to Universal Credit, brought in during the pandemic, for another six months.

The percentage of people in Wales claiming Universal Credit has increased from 150,527 claimants to 219,683 since the start of the pandemic, .

The Bevan Foundation’s Victoria Winkler, who has callled for 'Covid-style innovation to tackle Welsh poverty', told Sunday Politics that the pandemic has exposed all the difficulties in the system.

Ms Winkler said: “It has always been a problem, but as more and more people are claiming, it has exposed the weaknesses.”

Labour, Plaid Cymru and members of the Conservative Party, including Mr Crabb, have called for the £20 increase to Universal Credit to either be extended for twelve months, or made permanent.