MUM-OF-TWO Kylie Goodyear says a five-week wait for Universal Credit led to her family being evicted from their home and forced into a drug-filled B&B, where her baby got covered in cocaine.
Terrified for their safety, they fled the B&B – and are now living in a caravan in Kylie’s dad’s garden.
SWNS:South West News Service Mum Kylie is devastated to be raising tots Emmie and Leo in a cold caravan
“There was a shared dining room,” explains Kylie, “and a drug addict that lived in the B&B came in and dropped what I thought was a receipt.
“He had actually dropped cocaine all over one of the seats and my son’s hands got covered in it.”
Consuming just a tiny amount of the Class A drug has been found to be lethal in young children.
“If he got a drop into his mouth, I dread to think what could have happened,” says Kylie.
SWNS:South West News Service They lost their home after Kylie’s partner Lawrence was hurt in a car crash
Thankfully, Kylie’s lightning-fast reaction meant she was able to clean her son’s hands before he could put them in his mouth.
It was only last summer, Kylie, 20, and partner Lawrence Gilbert, 21, were living happily with their baby boy Leo, 1, and Kylie’s daughter Emmie, 3.
But in August Lawrence was injured in a car accident and then let go by his carmaker employer when he was left unable to drive to work.
“He couldn’t move, he was either stuck in bed or on the sofa. He had written off his car and couldn’t get into work,” says Kylie.
Are you on Universal Credit? Tell us your story. Email: email@example.com and join our Universal Credit Facebook group.
Unable to make ends meet as Lawrence recovered and frantically searched for work, they fell into debt. It took just over five weeks from applying for Universal Credit to get their first full payment, which was for less £500. The money wasn’t enough to save their £695-a-month home.
“I blame Universal Credit for making me homeless,” says Kylie. “If the Department for Work and Pensions hadn’t made us wait so long for the full payment we feel we could have saved our home,” says Kylie.
The Sun has been highlighting the problems caused by the long wait for receiving the vital Government cash through our Make Universal Credit Work campaign.
Archant The family applied for Universal Credit but were kept waiting six weeks for the money
To help hard-working families, we want to see the standard five-wait week for first payment reduced to no more than two, further increases in the work allowance, a reduction in the taper rate from 63p to 50p of every £1 earned and upfront help with childcare costs (see more in the box below).
All of these changes would make a significant improvement to Kylie and Lawrence’s situation.
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.
‘We lost our house and it’s tearing us apart’
Speaking of her guilt at not being able to provide, Kylie told The Sun: “I’m ashamed, I feel bad for my kids and I beat myself up about it and Lawrence feels similar.
“I worry whether they’ll hate me when they grow up for what I couldn’t do.”
With less than £900 to live on a month from Universal Credit, Kylie says they only have enough money to pay for essentials for three weeks of each month.
Food and nappies cost £200 a month, storing their possessions costs another £200 and the rest goes on debt repayments, car costs for Lawrence and public transport for the rest of the family.
“I can’t buy clothes for my kids, I don’t know what to do when it comes to Christmas or birthdays,” says Kylie.
“It’s tearing us all apart, we can’t afford to do anything.”
SWNS:South West News Service The family used to rent a two-bed house – now they don’t even have a proper bathroom and there’s hardly any space inside for the kids to play
Kylie and Lawrence applied for Universal Credit on 6 January and were gutted to find out they faced a five-week wait for the money.
She says they didn’t know they were entitled to an advance payment until nearly three weeks later, when they received a same-day lump sum of £200 – which they have to repay at a rate of just under £20 a month.
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit
IF 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.
Now, living in a cold caravan, Kylie dreads the nights the most. “There’s no toilets, no facilities, there isn’t even a cot for my baby,” she says.
“He’s having to sleep in between me and Lawrence, I’m terrified as to what may happen to him during the night.
“It’s so cold – Leo keeps getting chest infections and the health visitor has told me that it is unsafe but the council aren’t interested.”
SWNS:South West News Service Mum Kylie feels she is failing her children by not being able to provide a proper home for them
‘Work doesn’t pay’
Lawrence is desperate to get back into work so he can try to move his family out of the caravan and rent a proper home.
“He’s looking for anything, he has done a few things here and there but the more you earn, the more they cut your Universal Credit,” says Kylie.
For every pound Lawrence earns above his working allowance of £287 a week, the family lose 63p in Universal Credit – making it even harder to get out of poverty.
This is reduction in Universal Credit is known as the “taper rate” and as part of our campaign, The Sun is calling for this to be cut to 50p so hard-working families can keep more of what they earn.
SWNS:South West News Service
‘The Government doesn’t understand what families need to have to live’, says Kylie
‘I can’t afford to work because of the cost of childcare’
Kylie wants to start working too, as a care assistant, but she says Universal Credit makes it impossible for her to get affordable childcare for her kids.
While Universal Credit does enable parents to claim back up to 85 percent of childcare costs, most parents still have to pay upfront – which she says she simply couldn’t afford to do.
The average cost of sending a child under two to nursery part-time in the UK is £127 per week, according to The Money Advice Service. This is why our campaign is calling for parents to get upfront help with childcare instead of it being paid in arrears.
SWNS:South West News Service Kylie says she can’t afford to work as a care assistant because of childcare costs
And while Emmie, 3, will start in nursery at a primary school from September, Kylie says she still won’t be able to earn enough working as a care assistant around school hours to make ends meet.
And living on top of each other in a cramped two-room caravan with no bathroom is taking its toll on Kylie and Lawrence’s relationship.
She said: “We are trying our best, but we have no time alone. It is really affecting us if I’m honest.
“No one cares, and I really do blame myself.”
‘SLOW GENOCIDE’ Dying man left with just £15 a week to eat after DWP ruled him fit to work UNIVERSAL HELL Universal Credit errors are pushing people in to debt, charity warns CREDIT FLAW What’s Universal Credit and who is eligible to claim it? ON THE BRINK Food bank usage hits record high as charity blames Universal Credit UNIVERSAL HELL Universal Credit means my baby and I go without food but I can’t work either ‘WE’RE DESPERATE’ Couple left with £2.33 and could be kicked out over Universal Credit row Exclusive’SURVIVAL SEX’ Universal Credit left me so skint I sold £20 sex to married man on Xmas Day CommentAMBER RUDD Universal Credit changes could boost your income by up to £630 a year NO HELP Universal Credit claimants ‘risk sanctions’ due to Jobcentre closures BANKS A LOT Universal credit forcing skint mums to turn to ‘baby banks’ for nappies & food CREDIT CRISIS I might lose my home due to 5-week wait for Universal Credit cash
A DWP spokesperson said: “Kylie and her partner requested an advance and received it on the same day. They have a monthly Universal Credit allowance of more than £900, have declined budgeting support and have not mentioned any issues with childcare to their work coach.”
An East Suffolk Council spokesman said: “Council officers and management teams within accommodation settings stay in close touch with residents and provide as much support as possible, including signposting to other agencies where appropriate.”
Amber Rudd admits 5-week crippling wait for benefits HAS pushed people to food banks
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Money team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org