Failure of Universal Credit trial has harmed ‘everyone from most vulnerable tenants to the health system’

Jackie Esposito and Sue Dawson. Great Yarmouth landlords who are owed thousands of pounds in rent arrears brought about by the introduction of universal credit [Image: Nick Butcher].

If any Tory government service can be described as a “bottomless money pit”, it is Universal Credit – although that may not seem the case to those who have been thrown onto this abysmal excuse for a benefit.

Universal Credit has cost billions to develop, over many years (as detailed on This Blog – search ‘Universal Credit’ and read for yourself) – and it still doesn’t work.

Lengthy delays in payments mean the fabric of society in trial areas like Great Yarmouth is being torn up.

Now, what do you think your caring, compassionate Conservative government plans to do about it?

I’ll tell you: Nothing.

A welfare revolution has left a trail of damage to people’s lives in Great Yarmouth.

Landlords claim they are threatened with financial ruin, tenants have been evicted and fallen into arrears and the town’s foodbank said it has seen a 300pc rise in demand. They blame the problems on Yarmouth being picked as a pilot for a benefit system called universal credit.

Universal Credit, which replaces six other benefits with one payment, was introduced to Yarmouth in April, but there have been delays of three months for claimants to get money.

It will be rolled out to the rest of the region over the next two years.

The government hopes it will get more people working, but people in the town accused the government of using them as “guinea pigs” and said the long delay in payments was hitting everybody from the most vulnerable tenants to the health system.

Source: ‘We’re being used as guinea pigs’ – impact of universal credit welfare revolution felt hardest in Yarmouth – Politics – Eastern Daily Press

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10 thoughts on “Failure of Universal Credit trial has harmed ‘everyone from most vulnerable tenants to the health system’

  1. Barry Davies

    I still can’t see how it will get anyone working, a large proportion are on benefits because they can’t actually work at all, and others are on benefit because there are not enough jobs out there for everyone to have a job. Universal will not create any jobs, unless you count illegal actions as being an occupation, all it does it harm the most vulnerable.

  2. Louisa London

    I have the misfortune to work on universal credit. It’s a shambles. It’s no surprise that it is causing homelessness. We have scores of claims which are not in payment because we are waiting for the housing team to work out how much the housing element should be, despite claimants having supplied the necessary documentation.

    Did you know that there are two universal credits? One is called live service. It’s the original incarnation of universal credit and much of the work is done manually because the different computer systems don’t talk to each other. We are months behind on the work required to process each claim. Development work on this system has now been completely abandoned.

    The other universal credit is called full service. It’s supposed to be internet based with claimants keeping an online journal to communicate with their work coach. The journal is so difficult to use that claimants fill it in and then ring in to ask if they’ve done it right, which destroys the whole idea. You have to be unemployed for a long time to get the hang of it. In the back office the admin staff are supposed to have around 50 claimants each. According to the people who work on this service they have around 300 claimants each.

  3. Jeffrey Davies

    billions billions of pounds wasted on this rtu ids pet project failing failing failing to deliver its now well past 13 or 15 billion wasted when this monies could have gone on benefits nah they say its working well yes starving you out making you homeless oh dear

  4. Louisa London

    I have the misfortune to work on universal credit. It’s a shambles. It’s no surprise that it is causing homelessness. We have scores of claims which are not in payment because we are waiting for the housing team to work out how much the housing element should be, despite claimants having supplied the necessary documentation.

    Did you know that there are two universal credits? One is called live service. It’s the orignal incarnation of universal credit and much of the work is done manually because the different computer systems don’t talk to each other. We are months behind on the work required to process each claim. Development work on this system has now been completely abandoned.

    The other universal credit is called full service. It’s supposed to be internet based with claimants keeping an online journal with which to communicate with their work coach. The journal is so difficult to use that claimants fill it in and then ring in to ask if they’ve done it right, which destroys the whole idea. You have to be unemployed for a long time to get the hang of it. In the back office the admin staff are supposed to have around 50 claimants each. According to the people who work on this service they have around 300 claimants each.

    1. Paul

      At fifty claimants per person the DWP would need a staff of

      8,000,000/50 = 160,000

      in order to service the the full roll out of Universal Credit, which looks unlikely based on the fact that UC is supposed to be much more cost effective than the current system. So, obviously, if the powers that be press on with the daft to impossible “digital by default” jazz staff responsible for dealing with claims remotely will HAVE to service HUNDREDS of claimants, altering their entitlements as their circumstances change, which will inevitably lead to unacceptably large numbers of mistakes and errors leading to delays and stoppages of elements of to too many of those desperately in need of them.

      The idea that most claimants will manage their claims using computers, tablets and smart phones is and always was ridiculous. I believe that something like 17% to 20% of individuals in the UK have not got internet access and the people most likely to need to apply for Universal Credit are probably disproportionately highly represented amongst those in that very substantial unconnected minority.

      I just wish somebody would come forward and put a stop to this nonsense but just like Maggie Thatcher’s Community Charge (Poll Tax) in the eighties, a monstrous disaster that led to riots in the street, the current government look set to press on with Universal Credit to an inevitable and obvious similarly bitter end.

  5. Martin

    Universal Credit plunges the poorest and most vulnerable applicants into rent arrears and debt by design. Because Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears no applicant can receive financial help until one month has passed plus an arbitrary one week “waiting period”, a total of five week minimum which most often turns out to be much longer because of delays in the glacial pace that claims are handled. The justification for five weeks to months before Universal Credit gets paid to those entitled to it is based on the patent falsehood that every new claimant has been paid one month of wages immediately before applying for UC, because all workers are assumed to be salaried and paid in arrears monthly, and so have sufficient funds to tide them over until their UC entitlement is paid.

    This of course is a blatant lie.

    The only help available to the most needy and desperate claimants is an advance, in the form of a loan, to help cover rent and living expenses, which must be paid back later out of Universal Credit/wages. This basically forces the very worst off and most vulnerable claimants into rent arrears and/or debt from which they may never recover because when they start working most of their earnings will be sapped away by current living expenses and rent not leaving much or indeed any money to pay off rent arrears/debts forced on them because help is not available to anyone, even the poorest, until at least five weeks have gone by.

    Universal Credit is manifestly worst for the poorest claimants and it has been implemented do be this damaging to its most helpless claimants, deliberately, by design.

    The cancerous figures of Iain Duncan Smith and David Freud have now left government but does anybody really believe that some intelligent, competent and humane figure will arise at the DWP, grasp the nettle, and do anything to improve Universal Credit? Or abolish it altogether?

    I don’t and millions of lives will eventually end up being convulsed by a pernicious benefit designed by malicious idiots and kept in place by an evasive dishonest department of government in perpetual denial.

  6. Paul

    There are about 400,000 people in receipt of Universal Credit with 8 million supposed to be on it by 2022. That means only about 5% of all of those supposed to be on UC are currently receiving it with 95% of future claimants, currently on a mix of legacy benefits, yet to be migrated onto a dodgy computer system presently buckling at the knees and wreaking havoc working at only one twentieth of its proposed full capacity.

    This story isn’t going to end cleanly or happily because government. even Labour government, will try to make the system work even though Universal Credit looks as impossible as perpetual motion. Unfortunately many British citizens look likely to suffer terribly because governments in power rarely admit to being wrong and tend to push on with terrible mistakes rather than risk losing face. Plus Universal Credit has been around long enough now and wasted so much money by now to metastasise like a cancer; it would be very difficult now to excise a disease that has established itself so fully in the body politic without honesty and humanity, neither of which seem evident on the front benches of the current Conservative government.

    Damien Green doesn’t look like the heroic figure needed to scrap the project.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Labour has promised a full review of Universal Credit with the possibility of scrapping it extremely likely, unless my memory fails me.
      I certainly agree with you about Damian Green.

  7. rockingbass

    same here in East Lothian another one of the trial counties….landlords including the council and housing associations are in dire financial trouble and what about those who do not have a computer or the skills to complete the required forms?….for those I have helped locally it is Kafkaesque to put it mildly…My MP and councillors of all persuasions are up in arms about it

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I wonder how many of the people who are failing to pay their rents are in work?
      Perhaps the answer is to put pressure on employers to increase wages so that tenants CAN pay-
      Oh, but what am I suggesting?
      Tories would NEVER, EVER do anything like THAT!

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