Universal Credit

Universal Credit is broken!

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Universal Credit has been in the news a lot again recently, a combination of several in-work benefits the six-week delay in claimants receiving a payment has been responsible for people being driven into debt and destitution. Rent arrears in the borough have sky-rocketed and the town’s food banks are overstretched.

There are many reasons why this system needs to be rethought as people are finding themselves worse off than they were. Sanctions, which have always been an issue with the benefits system as it meant that one of your claims could be suspended for a few weeks to a few months. However, a sanction on Universal Credit sees all of your benefits suspended. Reasons for sanctions include being a few minutes late for an appointment, not applying for a job you’re not qualified for and not attending an appointment whilst being at a work programme.

Trevor Wainwright, leader of the Labour Group on Great Yarmouth Borough Council says:

 “Despite the Labour Group’s opposition.

Sixteen Months ago Great Yarmouth was used by the DWP as a Test and Learn Pilot Area for Universal Credit, despite being assured that GY would have a gradual rollout of UC.

The last 16 Months have seen an increase in rent arrears, an increase in evictions in the Private Sector, an increase in homelessness, and Food Bank use increasing by 87%.

To a large degree this is because of UC, and the impact it is having on residents lives. ”

Great Yarmouth was one of the pilot areas for Universal Credit so how has it affected its constituents? Currently, there are well over 6000 claimants in Great Yarmouth and you don’t have to look very far to see the problems within the system.

Andy White from Gorleston a self-employed welder from Great Yarmouth whose partner does the admin work for his business (as well as care for their daughter) has been able to claim £571 a month in Universal Credit but it’s only enough to cover their rent of £475 a month, the rest barely enough for them to buy food or other amenities. Although his Universal Credit claim recognises that he’s in “gainful employment” through his business, they don’t think the same for his partner. She is still expected to look for a full-time job as well as doing the admin for her partner and care for their daughter. Read more about Andy’s story here...

Universal Credit was piloted in Great Yarmouth and since then there has been an 87% increase in people using food banks as claimants are finding themselves having to make the decision of either paying their rent or eating. If that’s not already shocking enough, claimants who have been sanctioned find themselves not being able to pay rent too which means they find themselves plunged into debt or worse, evicted from their property which makes their already difficult situation harder. Read more here...

Debbie Abrahams MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary says:

“The social security system is meant to protect people from debt and arrears, not exacerbate their situation.”

The failings are clear when it comes to Universal Credit. The Labour Party are campaigning for the roll-out of Universal Credit to be paused and fixed before it causes more people to find themselves plunged into poverty.

Sign the petition to show your support.

-- Carl Guyton

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