HUNDREDS of thousands of families are being pushed into poverty by cuts to Universal Credit, the benefits cap, and harsh rules that penalise families with more than two kids.
These are the findings of a new report by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).
1 Families are being pushed into poverty thanks to Universal Credit freezes and the benefits capCredit: Getty – Contributor
The charity says that a whopping 500,000 children could be taken out of poverty if the Government removed the benefits cap and ditched its two-child Universal Credit limit.
A benefits cap currently applies to 12 different benefits – one of which is Universal Credit.
It means you can only get between £257.69 a week to £442.31 a week from the state depending on where you live, if you’re single, and if you have kids.
The two-child rule, meanwhile, means families can generally only get the child element of Universal Credit for two children – even if they have more than this.
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit WorkUNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.
One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the Government to:
Get paid faster: The Government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7 million from being pushed into debt.
Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email UniversalCredit@the-sun.co.uk to share your story.
But the Government did partially U-turn on this policy in January saying it will no longer apply to children born pre-April 6 2017 when the change first took force.
The charity adds that restoring Universal Credit to its 2015/16 levels would cut the number of children in poverty by 100,000, putting an additional £230 back into families’ pockets.
Benefits, including Universal Credit, have been frozen since 2016 and the freeze isn’t due to end until 2020.
But CPAG says that going back even further, if you restored Universal Credit to its pre-2013/14 levels and reversed the below inflation increases then that would see 300,000 children lifted out of poverty and an extra £500 a year going to families.
Chief executive of CPAG Alison Garnham said: “Bringing more families on to Universal Credit without restoring the cuts and fixing the numerous flaws highlighted by CPAG’s Early Warning System risks scaling up the errors, hardship and unintended consequences that are blighting the lives of so many families struggling to get by.
“Children have borne the greatest burden of cuts to government spending with the four-year benefit freeze and punitive policies such as the two-child limit and benefit cuts – this is just not right.
“The UK’s families deserve better.”
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal CreditIF you’re experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don’t cover costs, here are your options:
Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it’s a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit pay out.
Alternative Payment Arrangements- If you’re falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you’re part of a couple.
Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the government to help with emergency household costs of up to £348 if you’re single, £464 if you’re part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You’ll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You’ll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax or be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your payments aren’t enough to cover your rent.
Foodbanks – If you’re really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.
The Government says it’s cut taxes and introduced wage rises to boost low earning families’ income. A spokesperson said: “Tackling child poverty remains one of our top priorities.
“There are 667,000 fewer children living in workless households than in 2010, and we’re spending £95billion a year to support those families who need it most.
“Low earning parents have benefited from the introduction of the National Living Wage, which gave the lowest earners their fastest pay rise in 20 years.
“We’ve also cut taxes for 32million people to help families meet the everyday cost of living.”
In addition, the charity is calling on the Government to remove the five-week wait for Universal Credit by making advance loans non-repayable or moving from monthly to weekly assessments.
The Sun has been calling for claimants’ first Universal Credit payments to be slashed from five weeks to two weeks as part of its campaign to Make Universal Credit Work.
And only today, Step Change Debt Charity has said the five-week wait for Universal Credit cash is “pushing people into debt”.
We also want to see the work allowance increased, the taper rate slashed and childcare payments made upfront rather than in arrears.
CREDIT CRUNCH Universal Credit 5-week wait for cash is ‘pushing people into debt’ OUT OF CREDIT I was forced to turn down my dream job because of Universal Credit OUT OF POCKET 120,000 people on Universal Credit behind on rent – and 500 have been evicted NEW LOW Struggling families warned to beware new Universal Credit scam that stops benefits ExclusiveCASH CRISIS Universal Credit delay left nurse so desperate for cash she sold her kids’ toys
CPAG recently warned that Universal Credit errors are pushing people in to debt.
While new findings reveal that 120,000 people on Universal Credit have fallen behind on rent and 500 have been evicted.
The Government has this year launched a PR campaign to defend its controversial Universal Credit system.
Universal Credit bosses accused of holding 10,000 people to ransom after they lost money by switching benefits
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