Universal credit delays a factor in prostitition, government accepts

‘The government has dropped its hardline refusal to accept that destitution caused by five-week waits for universal credit payments has been a major factor in forcing some women to turn to sex work. 

Giving evidence to the work and pensions select committee, the minister for family support, Will Quince, apologised for a memo his department sent to the committee last month and said it “did not very well reflect my views on this issue”. 

The memo dismissed evidence that universal credit was a cause of increased numbers of women turning to sex work as anecdotal. It said the phenomenon was influenced by a range of factors, from drug addiction and the rise of AirBnB to EU immigration. 

Quince told the committee he had changed his views after hearing accounts from four women who gave evidence of how impoverishment related to universal credit issues had led them to take up escort and brothel work. 

“Those very brave testimonies of the young women who have gone through the most horrific of experiences gave me a better understanding through their lived experiences. What it showed me more than anything is we need to better understand this area,” he said. 

A transcript of the private committee hearing in May included a testimony from M, a brothel worker. She said the fact that drug and alcohol drove people into survival sex workdid not mean that universal credit had not caused “a really big influx”. 

She said: “It is particularly bad with universal credit because we have seen these huge waits, but the whole welfare system is stacked against us and it is pushing people into survival sex work.’ 

Quoted from The Guardian

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