Northern Ireland households claiming the new all-in-one benefit, Universal Credit are being plunged into misery and hardship
Westminster government must stop the roll out of Universal Credit before even more families are forced into poverty
23rd May: As part of a UK-wide Day of Action, Unite Community members and campaigners will be demonstrating from 3-4pm in SSA Headquarters in Belfast City Centre at Castle Court, Royal Avenue tomorrow [Thursday 24th May] to demand the roll out of Universal Credit be stopped by the Westminster government.
As well as the long waits for payment, other problems with Universal credit include the complex on-line-only application process and the level of benefit sanctions for people claiming Universal Credit being much higher than for other benefits due to reasons such as the difficulties people have in dealing with the complexity of the system and that many people claiming this on-line benefit don’t have access to the internet at home thereby missing job centre appointments and instructions they don’t hear about in time.
In areas of the UK where Universal Credit has been rolled out already food-banks have seen a 50 per cent increase in use compared with 13 per cent increase in areas with the old legacy benefits. ‘Left Behind’, a report into the impact of Universal Credit by the Trussell Trust, has found that 92 per cent of people claiming the all-in one benefit said that it doesn’t cover their full cost of living, and 57 per cent have experienced mental or physical health problems.
Albert Hewitt, Unite Regional Community Coordinator said:
“Universal Credit was introduced to Northern Ireland after the outgoing Executive voted to hand back powers over social welfare to the UK parliament enabling the Tory party to unleash the full impact of this brutal assault on working people – now working communities are facing the dreadful consequences of this policy.
“Despite knowing that Universal Credit causes serious problems for those claiming it, Westminster is ploughing ahead regardless while claimants are descending further into debt, relying on food banks and getting into rent arrears and in many cases are being evicted from their homes.
“In order to claim Universal Credit claimants need an internet connection which many simply can’t afford – when things go wrong claimants are being left to fend for themselves. The new regime also forces working people to go long waits before receiving money and new system will impose brutal benefit sanctions both for those claiming while in and out of work.
“The mitigations which were supposedly negotiated for Northern Ireland have been proven to be useless – Universal Credit must now be stopped. That’s why we are protesting as part of a UK-wide day of action against the benefit at SSA headquarters in Belfast tomorrow”, Mr Hewitt said.