Unite National Day of Action against Universal Credit

When: Thursday 24 May 2018
Where: 1pm in Old Palace Yard and will be marching to the DWP office, 12 Tothill Street, Westminster, London SW1H 9LH.

Hundreds of thousands of families in the UK claiming the government’s new all-in-one benefit, Universal Credit are being plunged into misery and hardship as the government continues its hostile environment towards claimants. Unite, the UK’s largest union, is calling on the government to stop Universal Credit before even more families are forced into poverty. 

As part of a National Day of Action, Unite Community members and campaigners will be holding street stalls over 65 towns and cities across the UK tomorrow (Thursday 24 May) to help raise awareness of who will be affected by Universal Credit. Dozens of demonstrators will be protesting opposite Parliament at 1pm in Old Palace Yard and will be marching to the DWP office, 12 Tothill Street, Westminster, London SW1H 9LH. 

Recent research by the Economic and Social Research Council has highlighted the devastating impact benefit sanctions, a key component of Universal Credit, has on claimants. Rather than helping people into work, sanctions cause increased poverty, ill-health and for some to drop out of the system and move into survival crime. 

The level of benefit sanctions for people claiming Universal Credit is much higher than for other benefits due to reasons such as the difficulties people have in dealing with the complexity of the system and that many people claiming this on-line benefit don’t have access to the internet at home thereby missing job centre appointments and instructions they don’t hear about in time. 

As well as the long waits for the benefit there are other problems with Universal Credit such as the complex on-line-only application process and the housing benefit element not being paid direct to landlords causing rent arrears and in some cases eviction. 

In areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out food-banks have seen a 50 per cent increase in use compared with 13 per cent increase in areas with the old legacy benefits. Left behind, a report into the impact of Universal Credit by The Trussell Trust, has found that 92 per cent of people claiming the all-in one benefit said that it doesn’t cover their full cost of living, and 57 per cent have experienced mental or physical health problems. 

Liane Groves, Head of Unite Community says: “Universal Credit is creating a hostile environment for people who claim it and is not fit for purpose and should be stopped. 

“Despite knowing that Universal Credit causes serious problems for those claiming it the government is ploughing ahead regardless while claimants are descending further into debt, relying on food banks and getting into rent arrears and in many cases are being evicted from their homes. 

“In order to claim Universal Credit claimants need an internet connection which many simply can’t afford. 

“Unite is demanding a cut in the long waits to receive money, for people to be able to apply in job centres, not just online, better help for people when the system fails, landlords to be paid directly to avoid people getting into rent arrears and losing their homes, an end to benefit sanctions for people in and out of work.” 

Over one million low paid part-time workers will also be affected by Universal Credit and for the first time ever people in work could face being sanctioned (having their benefits stopped) if they don’t prove to the job centre that they’re searching for better paid work or more hours. 

The new benefit, which is replacing six benefits – child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance and working tax credit – will affect seven million UK households. 

Ends 

For more information please contact Unite Community coordinator Liane Groves 07793 661657 

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org 

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.