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Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd has caused upset and shock by saying the 5 week wait for claimant’s first Universal Credit payment is acceptable. Unveiling a raft of “supposed” new announcements for Universal Credit, Rudd said of the 5 week period claimants have to wait; “at the moment I’m satisfied with what we’ve got”.
This will come as a surprise to many as the extended wait has long been cited as causing increased hardship on claimants.
Whenever this is raised with the Department for Work and Pensions of a welfare minister the response is always; “we have increased advances to 100% of the claimants award to help ease things for them whilst they wait.”
Advances are part of the problem
It is advances that, from my own experience, make things worse. When I first moved onto Universal Credit I took an advance as I had nothing to my name and the housing association wanted rent. Little did I know that this would be the start of 9 months of suffering and hardship.
I was having my advance reclaimed from my benefit payment at £125 per month. This left me with a grand total of £190 per month to pay my bills, feed myself, pay transport costs and buy food for my children whom I have at weekends.
Studies by charities and think tanks have also said that advances are not the solution. They just push claimants further into debt. Furthermore, were the DWP regulated like a bank, they’d have been fined for irresponsible lending practices.
An advance is a loan and the Department should be checking claimants can afford repayments, which they don’t. Instead, they take 30% of their benefit whether it will cause difficulties or not.
Out of Touch Rudd
Since becoming the Work and Pensions Secretary, the mainstream media have been painting Amber Rudd like the saviour of welfare claimants. She’s not. Nearly everything she has done or announced is no more than a helpful soundbite for the government.
They blatantly helped peddle a lie that “managed migration” had been delayed by Rudd, when in-fact, it was her predecessor Esther McVey MP who made the announcement in October 2018.
For her to now to say that 5 weeks is an acceptable time for some of the most vulnerable people in the UK to wait to be able to buy food or pay their bills, shows just how out of touch she really is.
The name Universal Credit is tainted with so much suffering and pain that the only sensible thing left to do is scrap it. Anything short of that is no victory at all.