Labour leadership hopeful Lisa Nandy has said the party should back welfare reforms which “help people change their own lives”.
The Wigan MP said the party should ditch a “paternalistic” attitude on the issue and try to change “power relations”.
She said she backed the principle of the universal credit system, but there was a lack of support for claimants.
Four candidates remain in the race, after Jess Phillips quit on Tuesday.
Shortly after Ms Phillips pulled out, Ms Nandy received a boost to her campaign after she won the backing of the GMB union.
So far, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer is the only contender in the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn to secure a place on members’ ballot.
Also battling to join him on the ballot are shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Nandy said changes to the welfare system had been undermined by the “values which permeate the system”.
She added the welfare regime has tended to “see people as problems to be solved, not potential to be realised”.
She said that in a speech later she will argue that universal credit – which rolls six working benefits into a single payment – was not the “root of the problem”.
In its election manifesto, Labour had argued for the scheme to be scrapped and replaced with an alternative system that “treats people with dignity and respect”.
Ms Nandy added that she supported the “principle” of the scheme, but “no support at all” had been offered to those being rolled onto the new system.
“If you want to empower people, you have to put the support in,” she added.
With Sir Keir’s place on the ballot secured, the three other candidates are locked in a battle to join him by securing support from local parties and affiliated groups.
To make it to the final stage, candidates have to secure nominations from 5% of constituency Labour parties (CLPs), or three affiliate groups – two of which must be trade unions – representing at least 5% of affiliated members.
Sir Keir cleared this hurdle after being backed by Unison, the UK’s largest union, and a second union, Usdaw, as well as environmental campaign group Sera.
As well as securing the support of GMB, Ms Nandy had already received the backing of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
Ms Long-Bailey has so far only received the backing of bakers’ union the BFAWU, but is tipped to get nominated by the Unite union later this week.
So far Ms Thornberry has not been backed by any affiliate group, and had only secured two out of the required 33 CLPs which would help her onto the ballot.
Mr Corbyn’s successor – and the successor to his deputy, Tom Watson – will be announced on 4 April.