Universal Credit Failures ‘Driving People into Debt Misery’
July 23, 2018
The Universal Credit (UC) system that’s currently being rolled out across the UK is forcing considerable numbers of people into debt cycles that can have highly negative effects on their mental health.
That’s the assessment of the mental health charity Mind, which has called on the government to “address the serious problems with the system” before they move forward with plans to further introduce UC as the country’s core state benefit payments mechanism.
Mind’s chief executive Paul Farmer told a select committee of politicians in Westminster recently that there is a “real lack of support” for people who are struggling with mental health problems and being required to navigate the new UC system.
Mr Farmer said that even people who are severely unwell are being obliged to seek work at the risk of losing their benefits, which is creating major problems for those who are already finding it difficult to cope.
“While some people with mental health problems are able to manage their money well, for others receiving one payment and being responsible for ensuring rent and bills are paid can be problematic,” said Mr Farmer.
“Taken together these problems are driving too many people into a cycle of debt, housing problems, and deteriorating mental health.”
Representatives of the anti-poverty charity Trussell Trust gave evidence to politicians alongside Mind’s chief executive and said that more needs to be done to ensure that the UC system doesn’t lead to more people reporting to foodbanks and becoming destitute.
“Foodbanks have seen first-hand the impact on people when there is either no money coming in at all from a benefit payment, or that payment is reduced,” said Emma Revie from the Trussell Trust, which runs over 400 foodbanks nationwide.
“We’re a country that prides itself on making sure proper support is in place for each other whenever help is most needed, whether that is through our health service or benefits system – what is clear is that more must be done, and urgently, before Universal Credit can be seen as part of this tradition.”
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