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Gurtac Swali, a single dad who says Universal Credit has sent him into arrears and made him ill [Image: Manchester Evening News].

Charlotte Hughes’ true stories of the effect of Universal Credit can be read on her website, The Poor Side of Life. It makes grim reading but should leave nobody with any illusions.

We all know the arguments about UC. The so-called “benefit” has been plagued with problems ever since it was first announced – and has plagued the vulnerable as a result.

But a succession of Tory Work and Pensions secretaries have refused to address those problems in any meaningful way. Iain Duncan Smith, Stephen Crabb, Damian Green and now David Gauke have all promised to tinker around the edges without tackling the fundamental flaws that are built into the system as they have devised it.

They have devised it to push people towards suicide.

The reason is clear: If a person takes their own life, the Conservatives can claim it is nothing to do with them – the standard comment is that “there are many contributing factors towards suicide” – and revel in the benefit saving from the demise of another “useless eater”.

The simple fact is that Universal Credit will never help anybody while it is being administered by a Conservative government.

That is why the best way forward is a pause – until a Labour government can take over and consider the situation.

This Writer does not agree with Labour that UC can be saved. I think the concept is fundamentally flawed because it is demonstrably possible for a punitive government like that of the Tories to use it as a punishment for being poor, rather than an aid towards prosperity. Labour needs to accept this.

While campaigners should certainly continue making their case to the current government, I think it is also time they put forward a persuasive argument to the next one.

Evictions, homelessness, debt and even suicide will all rise if the government’s ‘chaotic’ Universal Credit roll-out continues, ministers have been warned.

In Greater Manchester, critics have said the system could devastate lives in the area.

In a dire message to Whitehall, public sector bosses, advice services and a string of MPs have all demanded an immediate halt to the policy in their area – insisting it will send some of the country’s poorest people into a downward spiral.

Charities have dubbed it a ‘universal catastrophe’, while claimants say it has made them sick with stress.

Experts have repeatedly highlighted a catalogue of problems with the system, including a minimum six-week wait for payments to be processed, which has pushed thousands of people into arrears or debt – as well as a confusing online application system, lost documentation and repeated administrative errors.

Campaigners have also staged ongoing protests outside Ashton[-under-Lyne]’s JobCentre for the last four years, warning Universal Credit claimants are being forced to rely on food parcels – and are three times more likely to face sanctions than those on Jobseekers’ Allowance.

Campaign leader Charlotte Hughes, who has been compiling a dossier of horror stories on the benefit, said: “Universal Credit is hell on earth.”

Source: ‘Chaotic’ roll out of Universal Credit benefit scheme will ’cause evictions, homelessness, spiralling debt and even suicide’


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