FOUR million Brits are set for a £280-a-month boost from Universal Credit, but others could be plunged into poverty and destitution if the dire problems with the system aren’t fixed and benefits remain frozen.
Amber Rudd hailed a fresh report which said the new benefits system will help pull hundreds of thousands out of poverty in future, but vowed to do more to make it work.
New research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed that the system had the potential to help desperate Brits, taking 300,000 working families out of poverty.
They think that 3.9million working families are set to see their incomes increase by an average of £3,400 a year on the new system.
Since more money was pumped into the scheme in last year’s budget – including a £630 hike to the amount people can work without getting their benefits slashed – there will be more winners.
The Work and Pensions boss said the research showed that the new system can help parents out of poverty – but vowed to continue making vital changes to the system.
Ms Rudd told The Sun: “It is good news that this research shows that Universal Credit has the potential to help hundreds of thousands of parents move into work and out of poverty.
“And while I know that Universal Credit is a force for good and working for the vast majority of people, we cannot be complacent and I will continue to make improvements to the system where they are needed.”
The research also showed that 1.7million working Brits will still be an average of £2,500 a year WORSE off.
JRF agreed with The Sun that Brits needed to get paid faster, keep more of what they earn and get desperately needed help with childcare to iron out the problems with the flagship system.
Our Make Universal Credit Work campaign is calling on ministers to fix these issues before it’s too late.
But work coaches told experts that there was too much reliance on the advance payments system, which plunges claimants into debt from day one.
The charity wants to see Brits paid within two weeks, not five as it is right now, and for Ms Rudd to end the benefits freeze one year early – next April.
You work out the overtime and you should maybe get £80 and you only get £20 and you think, is it actually worth it?
Kirsty, single mum from North Tyneside
The Work and Pensions Secretary has vowed to end the freeze, but working families still face losing £200 in the last year it’s in place.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation Chief Executive Campbell Robb said today: “Universal Credit has the potential to loosen the grip of poverty, but with underfunding and a bad system it can end up tightening it instead.
“The Secretary of State has shown willingness to get this system working right – and the Government has demonstrated a commitment to support working families by raising the work allowances in last year’s Budget.
“The Sun’s campaign is right to highlight the fact that waiting for five weeks without savings and when you are used to regular wages is difficult for everyone but impossible for some. Likewise, consistently receiving less than you need to because you are paying back an advance can push people over the edge and into destitution.
“To succeed, Universal Credit needs to raise the incomes of those locked in poverty and ensure that work is a route to a better life. Without further reform, its potential risks being unfulfilled.
“The best immediate step the Government should take would be to lift the freeze on working age benefits this April.”
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work
UNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.
One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the Government to:
- Get paid faster: The Government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7 million from being pushed into debt.
- Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
- Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email UniversalCredit@the-sun.co.uk to share your story.
MORE ON UNIVERSAL CREDIT
You don’t know how much they are going to take off you. So you don’t know what you got coming in.
Working male in North Tyneside
JRF also want jobcentres to better use the hidden pot called the Flexible Support Fund to help Brits with their childcare payments upfront so Brits don’t go into thousands of pounds of debt going back to work.
They highlighted the thoughts of both people on Universal Credit and work coaches in their new report.
Research from Britain Thinks revealed that working parents saw Universal Credit as contributing towards their poor standards of living, and not helping them.
Many wanted to be able to keep more of their hard-earned cash rather than being hit by the taper rate, and felt trapped by their circumstances.
'We’re being evicted after Universal Credit delay left us broke'
BEHIND on their rent, with no savings and in £3,000 of debt, Amanda Plowman, 39, and army veteran husband Bryan,49, now face losing their home after a crippling five-week wait for their first Universal Credit payment.
When the couple moved onto the new benefit system in September their £561 a month benefits were immediately stopped, leaving them unable to pay their rent.
The Peterborough couple, who’ve been living in their current home for a year now, claim they have nowhere else to go if they are evicted and will have to be put in temporary accommodation, at a cost of £300 a week to the city council.
“It’s a disgusting situation to be in because you know it’s going to happen but you’re absolutely powerless to do anything about it,” Amanda told The Sun.
“We have no savings, no one to fall back on and we struggle to be able to afford the rent now that we’re in debt.
“If we’re are relocated to a completely different area then Brian will have to give up his job but I thought the whole point of Universal Credit was to get people into work? It makes no sense.”
A DWP spokesperson said that the scheme works for the “vast majority of people”.
They added: “Universal Credit reduces gradually as people’s income increases, which means they’re always better off in work.”
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