Call for Universal Credit to be scrapped amid claims it is causing ‘untold misery’

A leading trade union is calling for Universal Credit to be scrapped after a survey found claimants becoming suicidal, going without food, forced into debt and unable to pay bills.

Unite said its research among nearly 1,200 claimants revealed the misery of the scheme’s “failed introduction”.

More than two thirds of those polled said they had skipped meals and two out of five had been forced to use a food bank.

Two thirds said they could not afford bills such as heating, electricity and water, while more than three quarters said they relied on friends and family to make ends meet.

Half said they had been pushed into debt because of Universal Credit, with nearly a fifth saying they had been forced to turn to payday loan companies to make ends meet.

The Department for Work and Pensions called the survey “unscientific and unrepresentative”.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner (pictured) said: “Universal Credit is causing untold misery and heartache for people across the country. Its failed introduction is leading to people becoming suicidal and going without food, or being forced into debt and unable to pay the bills.

“Universal Credit is not just an issue that affects people out of work. At the beginning of the year over 530,000 employed people were receiving Universal Credit in a ‘corporate welfare’ cash grab to top up poverty wages.

“The Government needs to immediately scrap the five-week wait for Universal Credit which is pushing people into debt and benefit sanctions that are plunging people into the depths of despair.

“Ultimately, this cruel and flawed system which penalises families who are trying to make ends meet and keep a roof above their head must be scrapped and replaced with a humane system based on social solidarity and support that treats people with dignity.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “There is no proof that respondents to this survey have ever received Universal Credit. It’s likely that this unscientific and unrepresentative survey will only serve to discourage people from claiming the benefits they’re entitled to and it compares poorly to our survey of 6,000 people that shows 80% are satisfied with Universal Credit.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Danny Lawson / PA Wire.