Today, we’ve released a new report that lays bare the consequences of the five week wait for Universal Credit.
Food banks in the Trussell Trust network have long been sounding the alarm about the problems caused by the move on to Universal Credit and, in particular, the five week wait. This report reveals the acute, and often persistent, financial hardship the wait causes, pulling people into debt, homelessness and destitution.
Our benefits system is meant to anchor people from being swept into poverty. But as this report shows, it’s not doing its job. Our data shows that in areas where Universal Credit has been in place for at least a year, food banks in the Trussell Trust network saw a 30% increase in referrals 12 months after Universal Credit rolled out.
Something is clearly going wrong.
The five week wait is a key part of the problem. It’s causing people to be threatened with eviction, burdened with rent arrears, and forced to seek emergency help. For some, the stress of managing a financial crisis has led to health problems or aggravated existing conditions.
Universal Credit was heralded as a poverty-fighting reform, meant to make the benefits system simpler and more effective. But this data is a damning reflection of the system’s reality.
Ending the five week wait won’t end poverty overnight – but it would be a clear sign from the government that they’re taking the problem seriously and want to start working towards a future where no one in the UK needs a food bank.
Together, we can show the government what needs to change. Together, we can end the need for food banks.