Hundreds of thousands of poor people are set to lose money as the Tories this month start moving them from “legacy” benefits on to Universal Credit (UC). Up to 2.6 million people will be forced into the “managed migration” process that will mostly hit people on Tax Credits and Employment Support Allowance. They will be told that their old benefits are ending and that they should now start a new claim for the notoriously chaotic UC benefit instead.
Department of Work and Pensions officials say that 55 percent of people will be better off as a result. But more than a third will be worse off. And, because it takes at least five weeks between making a new UC claim and receiving your first payment, the move will hit desperate people hard. The Tories this year decided that UC would rise by just 3.1 percent, despite inflation being almost three times that amount.
Florin Constantin from Bradford, West Yorkshire, is struggling to pay his bills while getting by on UC payments of £600 a month. An engineer, Constantin caught Covid in 2020 and has since struggled with heart and lung problems. He says he now has to borrow money from friends to get by. “I have to borrow money every month from family and friends. I am in a lot of debt, maybe £6,000 to £7,000. I am not working. I am trying to find something,” he said.
Despite his failing health, and a letter from his GP saying he is unfit for work, Constantin says his local job centre has been pressurising him to try harder to get a job. Existing problems will surely get worse as additional benefits are all transferred. All of which begs a question. Why won’t Labour commit to scrapping it?
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