Universal Credit leaves foodbank shelves empty.

By Tim Rawlinson

Another day another sad story about the impacts of the reality of Universal Credit on peoples lives. Try as they might the DWP just can’t hide the truth about their attacks on the welfare state which are leaving individuals destitute and in some cases causing them to slide into poverty or homeless.

According to Wales Online:

“A food bank says its stocks have been emptied as families are “pushed further into poverty” by Universal Credit.

Volunteers are working around the clock to deliver emergency supplies to people in desperate need and one food bank issued another urgent appeal for help as shelves have been depleted by the demand.

One volunteer told North Wales Live that the conditions people are living in are “scary”, adding: “People are basically being left to rot”.

Some are having to wait as long as eight weeks for money under the controversial benefit reform, according to people who run the food bank. This is how the government decides how much Universal Credit is paid .”

Activists and Labour politicians had previously campaigned to stop the eight week wait and the Government claims to have lowered it to five weeks, despite people wanting it to be less. Many families are one paycheck away from homelessness due to in work poverty rising and low wages. Five weeks still plunges families into debt and poverty, even the cash advance loans have to be paid back over the following weeks.

Universal Credit, (like the previous systems) puts staff on Performance Improvement Plans, where if they don’t sanction enough people a week they get disciplined. Claimants are often set up to fail by underhanded tactics and the punishments can mean 13 weeks minimum with no money.

Aside from this, UC on a regular basis works out the costs of benefits wrongly. Some people even ending up payments. T

The article continues:

“Among the recipients at The King’s Storehouse food bank are families waiting for initial benefit payments and struggling to budget for bills, meals and fuel.

Another was an elderly lady whose husband died without leaving a will, forcing her to turn to the food bank because she couldn’t access his bank account.

Sarah Jones, a volunteer at the food bank in Rhyl, said: “Once again, we’ve been hammered because of a combination of things.

Anyone who makes a benefit claim or wants to report a change to their name or address are put straight onto Universal Credit.

Old benefits such as Job Seeker’s Allowance and Employment Support Allowance used to be paid every two weeks, but Universal Credit is paid monthly and people aren’t budgeting enough.

“Many have no savings to live off. With Universal Credit, people can be forced to wait as long as eight weeks for their first payment with no money in the meantime.

We gave out eight food parcels on Monday, the food is going out as fast as it’s coming in and we just can’t keep up. More agencies are referring more people on to us because their money just isn’t stretching.”

Figures released in December showed there were 68,136 people receiving universal credit in Wales and, by the end of the full roll-out – scheduled for 2023 – Citizens Advice estimates that more than 400,000 households in Wales will be in receipt of the new benefit.

But people in the system say they have been beset by problems – and pushed into poverty – from the start. One common theme is that   families have to go for five weeks until the first payment comes through.”

Sarah added: “Another problem we have is the number of people living in emergency accommodation  – there seems to be no stop gap for them as they don’t have any emergency funds or anything else to turn to.

“Those who have found work are finding that their wages aren’t enough.

Even something like a bereavement can really floor somebody. We had a lady whose husband had died and he hadn’t left a will so everything went into probate and she couldn’t access his bank account.

“We won’t turn anyone down if we can help it, but we are trying to limit the parcels to be enough to tide people over.

“At the moment we are delivering parcels but may have to look into some people collecting from us at Rhyl Rugby Club where they can come and chat, have a coffee and swap items in their parcel if there’s certain things they don’t eat, rather than it going to waste.”

Last year, the food bank, which is an arm of the Wellspring Christian Centre, had to put a block on “relentless” referrals because they were “run ragged.”

(Image: Kings Storehouse)
Pastor Mike Bettaney and Sarah Jones from the Kings Storehouse foodbank at Wellspring Christian Centre Rhyl
Pastor Mike Bettaney and Sarah Jones from the Kings Storehouse foodbank at Wellspring Christian Centre Rhyl

Food bank use nationally has seen a steep rise with Universal Credit being blamed.”

Of course at the end of the mainstream media article the DWP statement is full of falsehoods and spin so will not be included here.

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