The impact of Universal Credit on claimants in Sheffield

Universal Credit claimants in Sheffield were conned out of benefits, missed rent payments and increasingly needed food banks, a new report shows.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 4:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 5:45 pm

A Sheffield Council report on the impact of Universal Credit - which replaced six benefits with one monthly payment - showed many were struggling.

More than 16,600 people are on UC in Sheffield – which was rolled out in the city at the end of 2018.

Time Hardie, head of commercial business development, wrote the report and said refugees, lone parents, those in rented accommodation, families with more than two children, young people, domestic abuse victims and disabled people had been hit the hardest by the new system.

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Universal Credit is a single payment and replaces six current benefits, including Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance. Picture of Job Centre, West Street. Picture: Andrew Roe
Universal Credit is a single payment and replaces six current benefits, including Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance. Picture of Job Centre, West Street. Picture: Andrew Roe

He said: “Some families will actually be better off under UC, although the overall trend is towards a less generous welfare system. Some households are more adversely affected than others."

The officer added that some had also been exploited and conned out of their benefits.

He said: "There is a general lack of understanding of UC among some BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) people. This lack of understanding can easily be exploited; in Burngreave there has been a significant increase in vulnerable people being charged for help completing forms, or ‘friends’ helping with the process and then taking the UC money.”

There was an increase in the amount of missed rent payments - known as arrears - reported too.

Officers estimated the total arrears to hit £10.1 million by 2023.

The report will be discussed at an audit and standards committee meeting on January 23.