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Christmas cancelled for thousands of families claiming...

Christmas cancelled for thousands of families claiming Universal Credit

30 November 2017

Unite national day of action against Universal Credit 

WHEN: Saturday 2 December 2017
WHERE: Countrywide - see notes to editors

This year Christmas will be cancelled for thousands of families claiming the government’s new all-in-one benefit, Universal Credit. 

Unite is calling on the government to stop and fix Universal Credit before even more families will be forced to use food banks and struggle to heat their homes this Christmas.

The government has also admitted that the Universal Credit helpline for claimants will be closed for the majority of the Christmas period, making life even more difficult for claimants needing advice and emergency help.

Unite Community members and campaigners will be holding street stalls in 70 towns and city centres across the UK* on Saturday 2 December to help raise awareness of who will be affected by Universal Credit.

As well as the long waits for the benefit there are other problems with Universal Credit such as the complex online-only application process and the housing benefit element not being paid direct to landlords causing rent arrears and in some cases eviction. 

Liane Groves, Head of Unite Community says: “Despite knowing that Universal Credit causes serious problems for those claiming it the government is ploughing ahead regardless while claimants are descending into debt, relying on food banks and getting into rent arrears and in many cases are being evicted from their homes.

“In order to claim Universal Credit claimants need an internet connection which many simply can’t afford.

“Unite is demanding a cut in the long waits to receive money, for people to be able to apply in job centres not just online, better help for people when the system fails, landlords to be paid directly to avoid people getting into rent arrears and losing their homes, and an end to benefit sanctions for people in and out of work.”

In Britain** there are currently 505,549 households receiving Universal Credit but a further 1,513,970 will be put on this winter and this figure is expected to reach 5,915,290 once the government has finished rolling it out fully by March 2022.

Over 1.2 million low paid part-time workers will also be affected by Universal Credit and for the first time ever people in work could face being sanctioned (having their benefits stopped) if they don’t prove to the job centre that they’re searching for better paid work or more hours.

The Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest foodbank, says demand in areas where Universal Credit has already been rolled out has increased by an average of 30 per cent and landlords report a huge increase in rent arrears. 

Community members will be handing out leaflets with information and getting people to sign a petition to call on the government to stop the roll out of Universal Credit and fix the problems with it. 

ENDS

For more information please contact Liane Groves, Head of Unite Community on 07793 661 657.

Notes to editors

*For the full list of Stop and #FixUniversalCredit events

**These figures do not include Northern Ireland and are sourced from the House of Commons Library.

The new benefit, which is replacing six benefits – child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance and working tax credit – will affect seven million UK households.

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.