Universal Credit claimants ‘going hungry’ after cut to DWP payment uplift

Nick Ferrari slams DWP's treatment of Universal Credit claimants

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Those receiving benefit payments from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are having to go hungry due to having to choose between paying for food or bills. Poverty charity Centrepoint is sounding the alarm that vulnerable young people are particularly at risk of homelessness following the cut. As part of their research into the Government’s decision to end the uplift, the charity has published the results of a survey into the experiences of Universal Credit recipients.

One of the benefit claimants, who shared her “struggle to make ends meet” with Centrepoint is Tasha, a 24-year mum from Derby.

Both Tasha and her partner receive Universal Credit payments from the DWP and have had to prioritise bills over buying fresh food.

With the lack of support provided by Universal Credit, Tasha works two part-time jobs which has led to her spending less and less quality time with her daughter.

On the uplift cut, Tasha said: “When I heard about the uplift ending I was annoyed and upset. It came at a bad time too, just before Christmas and it’s my daughter’s birthday on Christmas Eve.

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“My family is forced to pick frozen food over fresh food for all our meals. We have to be really careful to make sure we can pay bills and never do anything fun as a family now.

“Me and my partner have to prioritise our little one more than ourselves. We need to get her new clothes a lot of the time because she’s growing so quickly at the moment and don’t have enough to buy clothes for ourselves.”

Centrepoint research found two-thirds of Universal Credit claimants go to bed hungry due to lack of money.

On top of this, 40 percent of benefit recipients have had to take out a loan or go into their overdraft to make ends meet.

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Only one in ten of the claimants surveyed by the charity said they believed the money received from the DWP is enough to live on.

According to a survey of 2,000 adults over 18, undertaken by Opinium on behalf of Centrepoint, a majority of the public think this is unfair, with only 17% stating that lower benefits rates for young people were fair.

Currently, Universal Credit claimants over the age of 25 receive higher payments from the DWP to their younger counterparts.

Balbir Chatrik, Centrepoint’s Director of Policy, outlined the reality of the Universal Credit uplift for many households.

Ms Chatrik said: “At the very least, Universal Credit should provide enough for the essentials like rent, food and bills.

“Our research shows that it is failing to do that and therefore leaving some of the most vulnerable young people desperate, isolated and on the hook for loans they’ve taken out just to get by.

“At the moment the Universal Credit system does not take account of the increased costs faced by those young people leaving care or escaping homelessness with no family or friends to rely on.

“We can’t keep letting the most vulnerable young fall through the cracks in Universal Credit.

“We need a system that recognises the real cost of living and a level of financial support that would give these young people the space they need to turn their lives around and fulfil their ambitions for work and education.”

The £20 uplift to Universal Credit payments was introduced during the beginning of the pandemic to support struggling households affected by the crisis.

However in his Spring Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the uplift would come to an end later in the year to encourage more people to get off benefits and into work.

On October 6, 2021, the temporary £20 uplift to Universal Credit payments came to a halt for all claimants.

Express.co.uk has contacted the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) asking for comment.

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