Universal credit is an unmitigated disaster for hundreds of the most vulnerable people in Croydon North, MP Steve Reed has told the House of Commons.
He warned that if the roll-out continues before the system is fixed, those hundreds will become thousands.
“People just cannot cope. “What kind of system penalises the poor, and forces people out of jobs and on to benefits and into food banks?
“A long and growing stream of people have come to my office, many of whom have been close to tears because universal credit has forced them into debt. “It has made it harder for them to stay in work and left many of them facing eviction for rent arrears.”
Mr Reed shared “just a few short examples” from his own casework: BULLET POINTS
- One constituent told me that she had £1,400 of debt and two months’ rent arrears because of errors with her universal credit. She had no money to buy food for her family or to heat her home.
- A mother of five children was left waiting nine weeks for her first payment. She works part time and is desperate to keep working. She wants to do exactly what the Government tell her that she should be doing, but the new system has let her down and pushed her into debt.
- A pregnant mother with two young children came to see me. She was not eating properly because of debt, which posed a serious risk to not only herself, but her unborn child. She had no option but to take out several high-interest payday loans and has been threatened with eviction because of underpayments. It is outrageous to leave anyone in those circumstances, let alone a pregnant woman.”Severely disabled people face the particular problem that universal credit does not include a severe disability premium. “Although the Work and Pensions Committee raised its concerns about precisely that earlier this year, as yet the Government have done absolutely nothing.
“Under the current system, a person with severe disabilities in receipt of income-related employment and support allowance with a severe disability premium gets £172 a week.
“Under universal credit, that is cut to just £146 a week.
“I became aware of that when our citizens advice bureau referred to me the case of a claimant with severe mental ill health who was moved on to universal credit when he became liable for housing costs.
“The effect was that he lost more than £100 from his benefits to cover his living expenses, and he had no transitional protection because he had experienced a change of circumstances.
“When a person has so little income, financial loss on such a scale is utterly devastating.
“The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Minister for Employment must do what this House instructed them to do in a recent vote: pause and fix the system before it devastates any more lives.”