Here’s why the Trussell Trust and Citizens Advice’s demands on Universal Credit don’t go far enough

Theresa May is coming under pressure over the rollout of Universal Credit [Image: REX].

The problem with Universal Credit won’t be solved by “pausing” its rollout.

The system is inherently flawed, in that it allows Conservatives to harm benefit claimants by – for example – delaying their payments or inflicting unreasonable conditions on them.

It is inherently flawed because in households with more than one earner, the taper rate – the amount of Universal Credit withdrawn as earnings increase – is greater than under the current system of tax credits.

And of course, it is inherently flawed in that it was originally intended to be entirely computerised and in that sense it simply doesn’t work at all.

Put those issues together and the reputational damage to UC – and to the Department for Work and Pensions that spawned it – is too great.

Both should be scrapped.

Britain’s biggest foodbank charity has demanded a temporary halt to a benefits shake-up that’s leaving people stranded without cash for months.

The Trussell Trust said problems with Universal Credit had forced demand on one of its centres up by 67%.

The mammoth all-in-one system is slowly replacing six benefits including jobseekers’ allowance and Tax Credits.

But not only has it been delayed seven times, it’s sparked fury by delaying initial payments [to claimants] who transfer onto the benefit.

MPs have repeatedly heard of people waiting three months for payments to come through.

The Trussell Trust gave out nearly 1.2million emergency food parcels last year, its highest number ever and up from 61,000 in 2010/11.

Chief executive Mark Ward said: “Foodbanks tell us that Universal Credit is inadvertently leaving people without any money for six or more weeks, leading to debt, rental arrears, and poor mental health.

“We are concerned this will only get worse as winter approaches and more pressure will be put on stretched voluntary groups left to step in and help in the absence of other practical support.”

The Trust has joined a call already made by Citizens Advice for the roll-out to be halted “until appropriate emergency financial support is available and accessible to all people left with no income or food in the cupboard.”

Read more: Britain’s biggest foodbank charity demands halt to benefit shake-up that’s leaving people with no cash for months

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  1. Tony Curr September 23, 2017 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    “Inadvertent”, my arse

    • Mike Sivier September 23, 2017 at 9:00 pm - Reply


  2. marcusdemowbray September 23, 2017 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    Universal Credit sounds very, er, UPLIFTING! (Ironic humour)

  3. hugosmum70 September 23, 2017 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    i understood that they can still get housing benefit if theyve got no money coming in at all. has that changed? if it hasnt, there should be no reason for them to get into rent arrears unless the dwp still insist that housing benefit is paid to the claimant. they would still be without food heat hot water but would at least have a roof over their heads,admitted housing benefit sections are notorious for taking their time going through new claims or ammended claims even. but landlords should not be allowed to chuck anyone out if they have a claim pending and there is no reason why they should not get HB

    • Mike Sivier September 23, 2017 at 8:59 pm - Reply

      How do they buy food, if they spend their HB money on the rent and have no other cash coming in?

      • chriskitcher September 24, 2017 at 2:29 pm - Reply

        Sadly we have become a nation of self interest. If it doesn’t affect us individually we are not interested until such time as it does affect us.Does this remind anyone of the quote by Martin Niemöller on the rise of Nazism in pre-war Germany?
        “When the Nazis came for the communists,I remained silent;
        I was not a communist.
        When they locked up the social democrats,I remained silent;
        I was not a social democrat.
        When they came for the trade unionists,I did not speak out;
        I was not a trade unionist.
        When they came for the Jews,
        I remained silent;I wasn’t a Jew.
        When they came for me,
        there was no one left to speak out”.
        Personally I think that the UK under May has reached the penultimate phrase of this.

        • Mike Sivier September 24, 2017 at 11:43 pm - Reply

          You know I used to quote Niemöller often.

      • disabledgrandad September 24, 2017 at 4:02 pm - Reply

        Hi Mike,

        Plus the two week delay with no money coming in before they even pay anything on universal credit that’s lovely. not sure if that’s everyone or just new claimants? I know you have covered it before sorry brain dammage i cannot remember the whole story maybe you can mention that too?

        But isn’t there some No-Income form that’s secret and will help you but only if you ask you local council for it?

  4. Brian September 23, 2017 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Never mind food, how do they maintain any prescribed medication payment, that stops too.

  5. Linda Ellis September 24, 2017 at 12:18 am - Reply

    the point is you don’t get any money what so ever not for food or rent for at least 6 weeks that has always been the case not one single penny and a lot of the time after that 6 weeks I know someone who got just 52p to last him a whole month before his next payment.

  6. damo September 24, 2017 at 7:31 am - Reply

    Universal credit is like a gun put to your head what a disaster ids,s hopeless disaster the torys have no comprehention of haveing no money in this greedy warped society you need money for practicaly everything…..everything…the terror the stress of not haveing money to even feed yourself……this country…its a f..king madhouse.

  7. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl) September 24, 2017 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Frankly Mike I do not consider the comment was worth replying to, however I congratulate you on your sensible reply and question, and for having more patience than I in such cases.

  8. Daniel Margrain September 24, 2017 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    UC is the precursor to the replacement of benefits with loans.

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