Recently, I’ve been supporting a local woman called Sophie who has been left without any money over Christmas and unable to feed her baby because of the flawed Universal Credit system.
The mother of a six-month-old baby, Sophie was forced to give up work for health reasons last year and began receiving Universal Credit. In September, she received a payment from her former employers in sick absence and holiday pay that she was owed. As a result of this income, she received zero UC for October.
In November, her UC was re-instated but in December she again received zero payment. When she queried this, she was told that HMRC had informed the DWP that she had received a further payment from her former employer. Sophie explained this was not the case and provided bank statements as proof.
Sophie believes that an error in payroll was made by her employer, Voice call centre, which has not responded to the DWP to help clear up the mistake.
As a result, Sophie had no income over Christmas and, shockingly, cannot buy food and nappies for her baby. She also cannot afford to heat her flat or pay rent to her private landlord so is now in arrears.
Despite this dire situation, the DWP have informed Sophie that no UC payment will be made until 13 January and have still not confirmed that she will receive the money she’s owed from December. The mistake could also mean that Sophie loses out on a one-off government maternity grant of £500.
Sophie has been forced into debt and poverty. The system has totally failed a vulnerable woman and her child but the DWP tell me that there is nothing that can be done.
Sophie’s case highlights the ongoing catastrophe that is the Tories’ Universal Credit system and how even tiny changes to the system would make life so much easier for people but the government refuse to budge.
If you also need help with Universal Credit, you can find advice here and please do contact my office on 0114 250 8113 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.