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Universal credit tips poor into hardship, says charity


Joseph Rowntree Foundation says cuts, debts and housing costs push poor over the edge


The study says it is ‘clear that … aspects of both the structure and administration of universal credit risk seriously exacerbating destitution.’ Photograph: Alamy

More than 1.5 million people in the UK, including more than 350,000 children, experienced destitution last year, a study has found, meaning they regularly went without food, toiletries, adequate clothing or shelter.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation says a “tangled combination” of benefit cuts, delays and sanctions, together with harsh debt-recovery practices and high housing rental costs pushed people already in poverty over the edge into extreme deprivation.

Nearly two-thirds reported that they ate fewer than two meals a day for two or more days over the previous month, nearly half lacked clothing appropriate for the weather, more than 40% went without heating, and 15% slept rough

Although the foundation’s study says there was no single cause of destitution, it calls for an overhaul of universal credit to eradicate well-publicised design flawsthat helped tip vulnerable benefit claimants into severe hardship.

The research defines destitution as reliance on an income so low as to make living basics unaffordable (£70 per week for a single adults, £140 for a couple with children, after housing costs) or because they cannot afford two or more of six essentials over a month, including shelter, food, clothing, lighting and heating.

To be destitute doesn’t just mean getting by on very little, it’s losing the ability to keep a roof over your head

Campbell Robb, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

From lengthy payment delays to an aggressive approach to deductions of benefit advances, the study says it is “clear that … aspects of both the structure and administration of universal credit risk seriously exacerbating destitution.”

Complete article athttps://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jun/07/universal-credit-tips-poor-into-hardship-says-charity


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