Universal Credit– Claimants Suffering

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Demonstration outside Parliament against the Tories’ Universal Credit and their ‘hostile environment’
Demonstration outside Parliament against the Tories’ Universal Credit and their ‘hostile environment’

THE PUBLIC and Commercial Services Union (PCS) yesterday accused the government of being ‘complicit in the suffering’ of Universal Credit claimants, labelling the system a complete ‘failure.’

The union called on ministers to immediately halt the so-called ‘managed migration’ of three million more people onto this disastrous and broken system, which is due to take place next year. The PCS, which represents over 50,000 workers in the DWP, also called on Labour, if elected, to radically overhaul the social security system, to make it humane and fit for the millions of disabled, unemployed and sick who need help from the state.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘Universal Credit has failed claimants, leaving many with mounting debt, facing eviction from their homes and in many cases leaving entire families going hungry. ‘Our members who work in the DWP have repeatedly warned about the chronic problems endemic to Universal Credit. They see claimants suffer every day but are hamstrung by a draconian system which puts emphasis on punishing people rather than helping them.

‘Ministers are making themselves complicit in the suffering of claimants by ignoring the evidence and insisting three million more people should be forced on to Universal Credit next year. ‘Due to the inhumane social security system that this heartless Tory government has put in place, we now see reports of children suffering from rickets and malnutrition.’

In March 2018 the DWP’s latest forecast showed that it failed to pay 21% of claimants their full benefit entitlement on time following their initial claim. The National Audit Office’s scathing report found that 113,000 payments were made late, affecting around one quarter of new claims.

• 40% of new claims waited 11 weeks or more for full payment; and 20% waited almost five months or more. • Foodbank use, rent arrears and evictions have been rapidly rising in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out. • Three quarters of tenants on Universal Credit are in rent arrears, compared to one third of all other tenants.

• Nearly a third of landlords have evicted Universal Credit tenants in the last 12 months. 77% of those cases were due to rent arrears which is an increase of 64% from the previous year. • Foodbank use increased by 52% in the first 12 months in areas where universal credit was introduced; this is four times higher in areas where Universal Credit is not yet rolled out.