Universal NightmareBruce Wang Citizen Wang Studio
Article By Bruce Wang @ citizenwangstudio.com
Christmas is almost here and with the cost of living reaching a crisis point in the UK for most, those hardest hit are without work or on a low income.
Universal credit was introduced to replace the old benefits system and allow it to be more streamlined and efficient whilst
minimalising benefit fraud and lost entitlement.
Universal credit was supposed to simplify the benefits system and make it easier for people on low incomes to manage their finances.
But it has instead caused widespread problems for claimants, with many being underpaid and falling into rent arrears.
Sadly, since the introduction of this benefit, many thousands of people have fallen into debt and homelessness
and cannot claim benefits without certain criteria such a bank account or a care of address.
This broken system, has created a new underclass who cannot even access food banks without having a Universal Credit statement.
Those actually in receipt of benefit are often being paid less than they are entitled to.
People are having to wait months for their first payment, and often aren't even paid the correct amount when it does arrive.
People are also being charged the wrong amount in rent.
If you're on universal credit, you'll have to pay your rent through your monthly payment.
To "help people manage their money and make sure they can afford to pay their rent", the government also offers to pay housing benefit directly to
social landlords on behalf of tenants who are in receipt of a short-term Universal Credit award.
This means that any arrears are paid by the government rather than individuals —
but it also means that if someone can't afford their payments, they may be evicted from their home.
The government and benefit agencies are aware of the potential of becoming homeless if an already poor person was given all their entitlement in
one cash sum..
I am sure many people will sympathize with bills piling up..
The electricity might run out on your meter, you might need a coat or a pair of shoes.. a much needed appliance might break...
anything to tempt a person into spending what they
really couldn't afford but still desperately needed.
This is the only other option, given that direct payments to landlords can backlog and get people evicted...
This government has evaded millions if not billions of pounds of entitlement using these techniques alone.
They know that some people will fall behind on rent and get evicted.
Many more people are struggling with the system than expected, there were more than twice as many rent arrears cases in England than there were in 2019/20 — and this is just one part of a growing problem across all areas affected by universal credit.
Social landlords such as councils and housing associations say it's getting harder for them to collect rent at all;
social landlords increasingly rely on deductions from benefits (with some tenants having over £600 taken off their monthly income).
But even with deductions, tenants still fall behind on payments for various reasons — including delays with processing claims or insufficient funds being paid out due to changeable incomes
(which can result from fluctuating hours.
More and more people in the UK are having to rely on foodbanks to survive.
The Trussell Trust has warned that foodbank use is “out of control”, with more people needing help to survive.
In the last year alone, millions of emergency food supplies were given out by The Trussell Trust in England and Wales.
The charity says it has had to ask for cash donations due to “the overwhelming need for help” caused by Universal Credit.
The charity says, More people are in rent arrears.
It's becoming increasingly clear that the problems with universal credit are causing real hardship to ordinary people.
We've seen a rise in rent arrears, as more people struggle to pay their housing costs.
We've also seen an increase in the number of people relying on foodbanks.
Universal credit is causing widespread problems for claimants.
In particular, claimants are struggling to make ends meet.
It's common for people to be in rent arrears or relying on foodbanks because they've been underpaid by universal credit.
Furthermore, housing benefit isn't always paid out on time or at all if a claimant has not yet applied for universal credit
but requires it as part of their claim (which is possible).
When this happens people may find themselves waiting months before they receive any payment at all
while others have been issued court summonses because they weren't paid in time.
CWS believes that given the amount of tax British people pay into the system one would expect government assistance should you lose your job or become sick
or any other genuine reason for not being able to work.
The Conservative Government do not want to pay benefits.
We think they have attempted to evade paying benefits over the long term.
Evasion includes sanctioning people often for the most spurious reasons such as not being able to be contacted over the telephone.
Goverment funded agencies have also harrassed the sick and disabled.
They have forced them into being re-evaluated for benefits such as Personal Independence Payment and Sickness benefit.
Most often the agency declares them fit to work even when their own GP's are issuing a sick note.
Workers for these agencies have whistleblown and say they are forced to remove people from benefits to fit their quota's.
Why is it that an educated doctor cannot make an informed decision that can be trusted for one's own patient???
You can help with a food parcel this Christmas,(if you can afford to of course!) With a donation to the Trussell Trust Emergency Fund Appeal.
Another great charity helping people into a safe environment off the streets in London are Spear.
And UK wide - Crisis
This is just a brief overview of the problems with Universal Credit.
As these problems affect millions of people across the UK the government needs to address this issue urgently.
We hope that by raising awareness about this important topic, more people will be encouraged to take action against such a flawed system.
Wishing a Merry Christmas too you all.
If you need help for homelessness you can contact Crisis and click "get help"
If You need help with a food parcel please contact