Sheffield mum 'counting pennies' after Universal Credit leaves her £1,000 in arrears

Mother-of-one Nicola Radford cannot help but cry when speaking of recent life events compounded by her money worries.

Tuesday, 28th May 2019, 19:27 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 09:42 am

“It’s impossible,” she said, through tears. “I’m counting pennies for my daughter to go on school trips.”

Universal Credit in Crisis - view the story on our new interactive format hereThe Sheffield carer, 34, says she briefly claimed Universal Credit in the run-up to the death of her mother, Denise, who had motor neurone disease.

She and partner Jason Foster, 31, who needs work where he can be supervised because of epilepsy, made a claim last November but say they were overpaid once the benefit started coming in – meaning the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) needed to take it back from them later.

Sheffield mum Nicola Radford.

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Miss Radford said they were entitled to just over £140 a month for three people but in March, the month her mother died, payments stopped altogether.

Mr Foster had got some hours working with the city council and Miss Radford is paid £821 a month by social services to care for her father.

The pair, who provide for an eight-year-old daughter, are now struggling to get by and Miss Radford says she is around £1,000 in arrears with housing association rent, council tax and water bills.

Miss Radford, a former mental health support worker at what was Alpha hospital, said: “By the time we’ve scraped up and paid the bills, we have nothing.

“I told them it was putting me in a mess, that they had put me in rent arrears, council tax arrears and water arrears and everything else. They didn’t care.”

A DWP spokesman said: “Universal Credit is a force for good and more than 1.9 million people are receiving the benefit successfully.

“Universal Credit encourages people to take on more work by tapering off slowly as people earn more – it eliminates the benefits cliff-edge of the old system.”