Charity warns of Universal Credit explosion

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Foodbanks can't cope with pace of roll-out 

5th October 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Foodbank use is set to soar if plans to move 3 million people onto Universal Credit go ahead next April.

Britain’s’ biggest foodbank provider, the Trussell Trust, said the move should be managed more carefully to avoid people falling into extreme hardship.

Universal Credit merges six working-age benefits into one monthly payment, but has been dogged by delays and administrative glitches.

People on tax credits and disability benefits will be migrated onto the system next year. Just under seven million households are expected to receive the benefit when it is fully introduced.

Data from the charity shows universal credit is the fastest growing cause of referrals. Foodbank demand in areas where universal credit has been in place for at least 12 months increased by 52%, compared with 13% in areas where the new benefit had been in place for three months or less.

Claimants are forced to wait a minimum of 35 days without income after applying for Universal Credit with many accruing rent arears and debt.  

Trussell Rust's chief executive, Emma Revie, said: “We’re really worried that our network of food banks could see a big increase in people needing help. Leaving 3 million people to wait at least five weeks for a first payment – especially when we have already decided they need support through our old benefits or tax credits system – is just not good enough.”

She added: “Now is the time for our government to take responsibility for moving people currently on the old system over, and to ensure no one faces a gap in payments when that move happens. Universal Credit needs to be ready for anyone who might need its help, and it needs to be ready before the next stage begins.”