Illingworth and Mixenden councillor Dan Sutherland is warning that North Halifax residents are facing increasing financial hardship as a result of the roll out of the Government’s controversial Universal Credit.
Universal Credit replaces six existing benefits, and affects people in work on low pay as well as those out of pay. But the system has been hit by problems that are causing real hardship for people with low incomes, including many who are in jobs.
Cllr Sutherland said, “The Government has designed the system so that people have to wait for six weeks after they first claim before they receive any financial help. But if you’ve been on low pay for some time, you’re not going to have savings to get you through – so I’m hearing from families who are really struggling to pay bills, and even having to use food banks to cope.
“What’s making it worse is that, thanks to problems with the system, many families have to wait even longer before they get help.
“And this is only one problem. Everything to do with Universal Credit has to be done online – so residents who don’t have computers and internet access at home are facing real challenges.
“As local councillors, we are doing all we can to help people cope, and will always give advice to anyone who is having problems. But it’s clear that Universal Credit is not working – it’s making life harder for the people it is supposed to help. That’s why we are backing the national campaign for the Government to halt the introduction of Universal Credit in new areas until the problems with the system have been sorted out”.
Universal Credit replaces six existing benefits – income support; income-based jobseeker’s allowance; income-related employment and support allowance; housing benefit; child tax credit; and working tax credit.
The charity Trussell Trust, who operate over 400 food banks, report that food bank usage has increased by 30% since April in areas where Universal Credit is now operating.