Rally aims to stop the roll out of Universal Credit

Labour Left convenor Lee Rock at the protest
Labour Left convenor Lee Rock at the protest

A new campaign group is calling for action against the roll out of Universal Credit.

Sheffield Trade Union Council has joined with trade union branches, campaign groups, tenant organisations and members of the public to stand against the scheme.

Chris Russo, Alistair Tice and Sharron Milsom.

Chris Russo, Alistair Tice and Sharron Milsom.

Protesters gathered outside the Department of Work and Pensions before marching to the job centre on West Street to begin leafleting.

The Government started the roll out of Universal Credit in Sheffield in November 2018.

Since then it has faced huge controversy for leaving households worse off with longer waits for benefits and cuts to the income of disabled people and young families.

Secretary of Sheffield TUC Martin Mayer said: “We are really concerned about ordinary people in Sheffield who don’t realise this is coming and who are going to suffer from benefits cuts.

Demonstration against Universal credit in Hartsgead Square in Sheffield

Demonstration against Universal credit in Hartsgead Square in Sheffield

“We think this is a really serious matter so the Sheffield Trade Union Council have spearheaded this new campaign to get groups across Sheffield to join up and make some noise about this.”

Many who moved over to Universal Credit from an old benefit scheme did not receive money for five weeks as the payments transitioned from fortnightly to monthly.

Disabled People Against Cuts campaigner David Smith said: “If you have something rubbish then you sprinkle glitter over it to make it look good.

“To those who are saying people aren’t using the system properly, I’d ask them to come and try to use it themselves.

Demonstration against Universal credit in Hartsgead Square in Sheffield

Demonstration against Universal credit in Hartsgead Square in Sheffield

“Universal Credit affects people that are in work just as much as those who aren't as it covers a whole range of benefits.The scheme just isn’t facing up to reality.”

To apply for and manage a claim for Universal Credit, most people need a personal email address, a bank or credit union account and a mobile phone number.

Campaigner Neil MacPherson said: “A big problem is that a lot of people don’t have the digital skills to manage this system.

“It’s really important that the people of Sheffield are made aware of the fact that Universal Credit is now being rolled out and it will have a terrible impact on lives.”

Demonstration against Universal credit in Hartsgead Square in Sheffield

Demonstration against Universal credit in Hartsgead Square in Sheffield

Sheffield Labour Left convenor Lee Rock said: “Many people who are receiving Universal Credit are applying for, or do already, have jobs. 

“The problem is that jobs are so in demand, and many are zero hour contracts that it’s difficult for people to live on these wages.”