Mark Ward, Interim CEO said:
“Universal Credit has the potential to be transformative: we welcome the intention to simplify a previously complicated system and make work pay. However, in its current form, we fear it is doing more harm than good for some of our country’s most vulnerable people.
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. People in seasonal or insecure work are finding it difficult to budget as they don’t know how much they’ll get paid next month. It’s led to one foodbank seeing a 67% increase in their referrals, and another has been working flat out to help people with their claims. 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.
Work to amend Universal Credit’s design and tackle poor administration in the system is needed before it can be rolled out effectively: reducing the 6-week wait for a first payment and providing more support through programmes like Universal Support would make a real difference to people navigating the new system.
In the absence of this, we support Citizens Advice’s call for a pause to the roll-out of Universal Credit, particularly until appropriate emergency financial support is available and accessible to all people left with no income or food in the cupboard.”
You can read more about the impact foodbanks are reporting following Universal Credit roll-out in their area in our report, Early Warnings, or in our submission to the Work and Pensions Select Committee in September 2017.