UNIVERSAL Credit claimants risk being sanctioned because they can’t get the help they need from Jobcentres with 67 closing in the past three years alone.
That’s the warning a benefits charity has told the Huffington Post after a Freedom of Information request made by the newspaper revealed the worrying number of Job Centres closing.
Alamy Jobcentre numbers have fallen from 712 in 2015 to 645 now
The report says Jobcentres have plummeted from 712 in 2015 to 645 at the end of 2018 – a nearly 10 per cent drop.
The Huffington Post adds that 352 computers have also been cut from Jobcentres in 2019, in addition to the loss of 3,761 PCs from libraries since 2010.
This is concerning given the Government is in the middle of the roll out of its flagship Universal Credit benefits programme.
The Sun launched its Make Universal Credit Work campaign last year, demanding changes to the policy before it’s too late.
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 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’ve told how Brits are drowning in debt waiting for their first payment and are struggling with getting their childcare costs paid back to them.
Anna Stevenson, a welfare specialist at Turn2Us told the Huffington Post that an increasing number of claimants are needing to make contact with Jobcentres.
She said: “The reduction in the number of Jobcentres at a time when demand for them is being increased because of the introduction of Universal Credit can only leave more claimants risking sanctions because they struggle to comply with their obligations, and struggling to access the resources they need to manage their claims.”
The Sun has contacted Turn2Us and we’ll update this story if we get a response.
Alamy Turn2Us warns that Jobcentre closures may result in struggling Universal Credit claimants facing sanctions
Claimants are slapped with sanctions when they fail to attend a work search review or fail to do what they’ve agreed in their “claimant commitment”.
There are different levels of sanction but what it typically means is that your Universal Credit payments will be reduced or stopped.
Here’s how to fightback if you’ve been unfairly sanctioned and how to claim a hardship payment in the meantime.
The Government says Jobcentre numbers are being cut to reflect the growing number of people managing their benefits online.
A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesperson told The Sun: “More people are choosing to access their benefits online but face to face appointments remain available to all our customers.
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 BEG AND BORROW I had to beg for food during nine-week wait for Universal Credit ExclusiveON THE BREADLINE I have £1.80 a day to feed my family after 7-week Universal Credit delay ‘I WAS LIVID’ Universal Credit staff said to leave daughter, 8, home alone so I could work
“We can also help with travel costs and arrange home visits.
“Some smaller Jobcentres are merging with larger ones, and others will be co-located within local government services – saving the taxpayer over £135million a year, for the next 10 years. ”
The DWP adds that claimants will be told in advance if their local Jobcentre is closing.
Struggling mum tries to feed family with £1.80 a day after 7-week Universal Credit delay left her skint
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