- Created: Friday, 01 December 2017 13:06
- Written by Luke Meehan
Universal Credit (UC), the government’s flagship welfare reform, is now being rolled out to over 105 local council areas, roughly a quarter of local authorities – hitting all new claimants with a minimum five-week waiting period for any pay out, reduced from six weeks by the Autumn Budget. This not only affects those leaving school or work who require a new payment of Jobseeker’s Allowance, but people who have been receiving benefits to subsidise their poor wages and extortionate housing costs, who have or will be transferred onto the new welfare regime. For these people, all of the benefits they were previously entitled to – including housing benefit – will be suspended until their new UC claim is validated. LUKE MEEHAN reports.
This gap in payments has already led to a marked increase in food poverty and mounting rent arrears – with research by the Trussell Trust reporting an unprecedented surge in the use of foodbanks in areas where UC has been implemented, and Freedom of Information requests in September 2017 revealing that roughly half of claimants were at least a month behind with their rent, and thus at risk of eviction. Further research by the Resolution Foundation has indicated that 57% of claimants have been forced to borrow money while waiting for their payments to come through, meaning that repaying interest on loans will join rent arrears in eating into the little money they eventually receive.