I am deeply worried by new figures from Feeding Britain, a national charity working to alleviate and eliminate hunger across the country, which show that £560,000 was deducted from Universal Credit (UC) claims in Leicester in the month of August 2019. A little under half of that sum came in the form of deductions for UC advance payments.
Under the current system, claimants are forced to wait at least 5 weeks until their first payment. This is a huge problem because during this period many are left without an income and have to apply for an advance payment to plug the gap. Advance payments are then repaid via deductions from UC, which leave claimants short each month and trap them in a cycle of debt.
All along I have warned the Government about the continuing problems with UC here in Leicester, but they have refused to listen. It is simply unacceptable that almost 7 years after Universal Credit was first rolled-out, the Government has still not fixed fundamental flaws such as the 5-week wait. To make matters even worse, it was revealed last week that full rollout of UC is being delayed yet again, adding £500m to its overall cost.
The Government must face up to reality and fix this broken system once and for all.