Universal Credit delays are 'sending people to foodbanks' as Sheffield MPs call for delay to 'shambles' benefit roll-out

Universal Credit delays are turning people to foodbanks in Sheffield, Citizens Advice has said
Universal Credit delays are turning people to foodbanks in Sheffield, Citizens Advice has said
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Sheffield people are turning to foodbanks and are at risk of losing their homes due to delays in changes to benefits.

Sheffield MPs Gill Furniss, Jarad O'Mara and Paul Blomfield have called for a delay to the roll out of the 'shambles' Universal Credit which will fully cover Sheffield by June next year.

Universal Credit will be rolled out to all job centres by June 2018 but some people are already on the benefit

Universal Credit will be rolled out to all job centres by June 2018 but some people are already on the benefit

And Frances Potter from Citizens Advice Sheffield told The Star the problems some people are facing will only get worse if the government does not make changes.

Universal credit is a new benefit for working-age people, replacing six benefits and merging them into one payment:.

It combines income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, housing benefit, child tax credit and working tax credit.

It aims to make claiming benefits simpler but people in Sheffield who have transferred onto the system have been hit with lengthy payment delays due to the complex administration process.

Paul Blomfield, Jared O'Mara and Gill Furniss have called on the government to delay the roll-out due to ongoing problems

Paul Blomfield, Jared O'Mara and Gill Furniss have called on the government to delay the roll-out due to ongoing problems

Frances Potter from Citizens Advice said: "The people we've had dealings with have all been foodbank referrals just to feed their kids. It's okay if you can rely on a parent, relative or friend for some cash, somewhere to sleep and take a shower but not everyone has that support.

"People are also on the brink of losing their homes, racking up rent arrears and social housing landlord are really concerned about this too.

"It's totally reasonable requirement to urge the government to look at this again and try and sort of the problems out.

"If we don't sort it out it will be a complete car crash."

Gill Furniss MP for Brightside and Hillsborough said: “The system for claiming Universal Credit is a shambles, even with only five new areas a month.

"According to the government’s own figures, almost a quarter of claimants wait longer than six weeks for their payment.

"Some families wait 12 weeks or more, pushing many into rent arrears or a spiral of debt that is almost impossible to get out of, as their income under Universal Credit is too low to pay off the loan.

“David Gauke must now do the decent thing and delay next week’s planned 11-fold expansion until Universal Credit systems are working properly. If he doesn’t, then hundreds of thousands more families each month, including in Brightside and Hillsborough, will have to suffer weeks with no money, causing them long-term financial problems.

“It would be a huge injustice for so many families to suffer simply because the government will not admit they still can’t get Universal Credit working properly.”

The government has said anyone that needs an advance payment can get one within five working days.

David Guake, Work and Pensions Secretary said: "As we move forward to the end of the year, many more interim payments are being made to stabilise it, and also you'll find the housing stuff is going to be sorted out, it has been sorted out.

"Universal Credit is delivering on the ground, vastly improving the lives of those who are on it, and that roll-out is set to be steady and careful."