UNIVERSAL Credit’s five-week wait is setting up Brits to fail and loading families with debt from day one, charities have warned.
Experts from the foodbank group Trussell Trust, debt charity StepChange and homelessness organisation Shelter told MPs this morning the long wait for cash on the flagship benefits programme was still a huge issue.
They welcomed moves from Amber Rudd to make it easier for them to access cash when going onto the system, but said more needed to be done to tackle the long wait.
The Sun’s Make Universal Credit Work campaign has highlighted Brits’ problems with the five-week wait and has demanded it be slashed to help struggling Brits.
The DWP Secretary has said she’s listening and will take action to help more people access their cash quicker.
Today Sumi Rabindrakumar, Head of Policy and Research at The Trussell Trust, said there was a “danger that [Universal Credit] sets people up to fail in their financial security.”
The foodbank charity said there were “tangible ways to solve that problem and make sure that people get money sooner”.
Debt was being loaded onto low income families which was “not the right way forward” and “concrete action” was needed now, she said.
Foodbanks could struggle to get enough donations in future if demand keeps going up, she warned.
It’s not sustainable
Peter Tutton, StepChange
Tory MP Heidi Allen said the fact that Brits were being asked to repay their advance payments was a crucial part of spiralling debts.
And Peter Tutton, head of policy at StepChange agreed, saying that the high repayment rate was hurting Brits too.
“If people need to wait weeks before they get money then they will be put into debt. It’s not sustainable,” he told MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee.
Deborah Garvie, Policy Manager at Shelter said the benefits freeze was also a huge issue for Brits in the welfare system, after four years of rising prices and rents.
“We are dealing with people at crisis point and what we need to do is make sure people don’t get to crisis point, that’s what housing benefit is for,” she said.
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
And she argued that because housing benefits have remained frozen, Brits are having to dip into money that should be used to live on instead.
Ministers say that more advance payments and run-on payments for housing benefits and slashing a week off, have helped solve some of the problems with the wait.
But just this week Ms Rudd admitted that at the start of the roll-out Brits could have been driven to foodbanks by Universal Credit.
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