MPs to probe so-called ‘survival sex’ as universal credit linked to prostitution

MPs will investigate whether women are turning to prostitution to survive because of the Universal Credit system.

The Work and Pensions Committee is calling for evidence about the possible link between the Government’s controversial welfare scheme and so-called “survival sex”.

It comes after reports from charities and support organisations indicated increasing numbers of people, mostly women, have become involved in prostitution as a direct result of benefits policy changes.

Frank Field MP, chairman of the committee, said: “We have heard sufficient evidence, and are sufficiently worried, to launch this inquiry to begin to establish what lies behind the shocking reports of people being forced to exchange sex to meet survival needs.

“This is an investigation, and we do not yet know what we will uncover.

“But if the evidence points to a direct link between this kind of survival sex and the administrative failures of Universal Credit, ministers cannot fail to act.”

The committee has identified aspects of Universal Credit that may lead to difficulties in claimants meeting survival needs, including delays to payments and sanctions.

MPs are asking for written submissions about how the scheme might drive people into “survival sex” by April 29.

The committee will later hear evidence as it seeks to determine how widespread the problem is and to what extent any increases can be directly linked to Universal Credit.

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