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‘I have never felt so vulnerable’ - your reaction to controversy over Universal Credit

PUBLISHED: 12:40 12 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:40 12 October 2018

Readers speak out about their experience with Universal Credit. A JobCentrePlus. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Readers speak out about their experience with Universal Credit. A JobCentrePlus. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

The newly-introduced Universal Credit has been controversial across the country, with John Major even describing it as the new poll tax.

A recent report on the Ipswich Star and the East Anglian Daily Times has received a huge response from readers in Suffolk and Essex - with many taking to Facebook to express their views.

While some people have been forced to visit food banks or rely on their family because of insufficient funds, others believe to be better off after receiving the payment which is intended to help those on a low income or who are out of work.

According to latest Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) data, 13,885 households were on Universal Credit - which combines a series of benefits into a single payment - in June 2018.

A full UC service is already in place across most of Suffolk and north Essex – with parts of Suffolk Coastal, Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury due to be completed later this year.

This is what our readers had to say:

■ One person commented: “I was in hospital in June and for the first time in 22 years I was unable to work and had to claim. I didn’t receive enough to cover all my bills and had to get food from a food bank.

“At 62 years old I have never felt so vulnerable. I feel so sorry for younger people with kids. I only managed because my kids helped me - never in all my working life did I expect to have to depend on my kids.”

■ Also impacted by the new benefit, one Facebook user said: “They refused me as unable to work even with medical documentation, so I’m still meant to be available to do limited work, whatever it is. But I had a PIP (Personal Independence Payment) and they agreed I was unfit to work.”

■ Another person was outraged by the new system and said: “My daughter has just gone back to work part time (her little girl is two years old) and she had to claim Universal Credit, but they have messed up her money so much.

“She got paid early from work due to bank holiday and because it fell in the same time frame as her last pay day she got no money from Universal Credit at all. She was only paid two days early! She is now in over £1,000 debt due to them, and would of been better off not returning to work!”

■ Other readers shared their disgust, saying: “Cuts and hardship inflicted on the sick, vulnerable and poor is unacceptable in a civilised wealthy country,” and: “They tell you that you can live off such a small amount of money for a month which is a joke. With no money to go to work or even to get to work it is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard of.”

■ Meanwhile one reader disagreed with the backlash Universal Credit has received, saying: “I’m better off under the Universal Credit system, it gives me MUCH more freedom to work what I want, regarding overtime etc and you can practically never build up an overpayment in my case.”

Do you have a story to share about your experience with Universal Credit? Join in the conversation on our Facebook post or get in touch via email.

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