Half of Universal Credit Claimants Struggle to Pay Bills

NUJ Slams Misleading Government Newspaper Adverts

A report released by the Department for Work and Pensions shows 44% of Universal Credit claimants struggle to make ends meet.

The Universal Credit Full Service Survey, released on Friday, shows that whilst the implementation of the “one-size-fits-all” benefit system generally is well received, those on the poverty line are significantly worse off than before.

One key constituent of Universal Credit is the logic of one payment for all benefits, including housing and child benefits.

In the survey summary, it is disclosed that; “Four in ten claimants at both survey waves were experiencing difficulties keeping up with bills approximately eight to nine months into their claim. In both waves, just over a third were experiencing housing payment arrears and, for 44 per cent, the situation had deteriorated between the two surveys.”

Managing Housing Costs

In what can only be percieved as a policy created by wealthy suits in Whitehall with no comprehension of poverty, claiming housing costs through Universal Credit is crippling.

Claiming housing costs is infact a tax. A claimant will not receive 100% of their housing costs, instead receiving on average 93.75% of their housing costs, and having to make up the difference from their normal out-of-work benefit.

The report outlines that; “Overall, seven out of ten (72 per cent) claimants in the survey were receiving payments towards their housing costs. The majority were confdent managing their
housing costs, with confdence higher among those renting privately, compared with social housing tenants.

“Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA) are available for claimants who struggle to manage housing payments. In this survey, one fifth (22 per cent) of those receiving payments towards their housing costs said they had an APA in place.

“Slightly more than one third of claimants receiving UC payments towards their housing costs were in arrears in both surveys (36 per cent in Wave 1 and 35 per cent in Wave 2). Among those who were in arrears, two thirds (65 per cent) said they fell into debt after they made their claim for UC.

“There were also signs of the situation deteriorating over time for some claimants. Seven out of ten (71 per cent) of those in arrears at three months into their claim were still in arrears at the eight to nine month point and 44 per cent said the amount they owed had become larger.

“However, three in ten (29 per cent) of those still in arrears said the amount had become smaller and a quarter (27 per cent) of those in arrears in the frst survey were up to date with their payments by the second survey.”

So with out-of-work benefits calculated to give the claimant just enough to live on, it is then taken away again to subsidise housing costs.

Everyone claiming housing costs and out-of-work benefits are therefore forced below the poverty line by the system.

This article first appeared on Birmingham Digest on 9th June 2018.