The Trussell Trust has produced a worrying report on the failings of the Coalition/Conservative Universal Credit welfare policy.
The actual rollout of the new Universal Credit system for administering benefits has been piecemeal so far and , foodbanks in areas of partial or full rollout are reporting significant problems with its impact.
Key findings from the report reveal:
- Foodbanks in areas of full Universal Credit rollout to single people, couples and families, have seen a 16.85% average increase in referrals for emergency food, more than double the national average of 6.64%.
- The effect of a 6+ week waiting period for a first Universal Credit payment can be serious, leading to foodbank referrals, debt, mental health issues, rent arrears and eviction. These effects can last even after people receive their Universal Credit payments, as bills and debts pile up.
- People in insecure or seasonal work are particularly affected, suggesting the work incentives in Universal Credit are not yet helping everyone.
- Navigating the online system can be difficult for people struggling with computers or unable to afford telephone helplines. In some cases, the system does not register people’s claims correctly, invalidating it.
- Foodbanks are working hard to stop people going hungry in areas of rollout, by providing food and support for more than two visits to the foodbank and working closely with other charities to provide holistic support. However, foodbanks have concerns about the extra pressure this puts on food donation stocks and volunteers’ time and emotional welfare.
Trussell Trust data also reveals that benefit delays and changes remain the biggest cause of referral to a foodbank, accounting for 43 percent of all referrals (26 percent benefit delay; 17 percent benefit change), a slight rise on last year’s 42 percent. Low income has also risen as a referral cause from 23 percent to 26 percent.
See the full report below: