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MP’s hear universal credit horror stories

Department for Work and Pensions headoffice
Department for Work and Pensions headoffice Image credit:

MPs have warned the universal credit payments could be “pointlessly cruel” for single parents and people with disabilities.

They issued their concern after hearing a number of cases which has seen claimant losing their benefits through no fault of their own.

One man had his allowance stripped after he missed a JobCentre appointment he was unable to attend because they were in hospital being treated for severe epilepsy.

Another victim slept in a college library and “sofa-surfed” for a year after he lost his benefits due to a system error.

The cross-party committee said taking away disabled people’s benefits was “harmful and counterproductive” and appealed for an urgent review.

Committee chairman, Frank Field, said: “We have heard stories of terrible and unnecessary hardship from people who’ve been sanctioned.

“They were left bewildered and driven to despair at becoming, often with their children, the victims of a sanctions regime that is at times so counterproductive it just seems pointlessly cruel.

“While none of them told us that there should be no benefit sanctions at all, it can only be right for the Government to take a long hard look at what is going on.”

A spokesman from the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We’re committed to ensuring that people get the benefits they’re entitled to, but it is reasonable that people have to meet certain requirements.

“Sanctions are only used in the minority of cases when someone doesn’t meet these requirements without a good reason – and work coaches will continue to offer support to claimants to identify and help resolve the issues that led to that.”

“The Government conducted research which found that 76 per cent of universal credit claimants felt sanctions made them more likely to meet requirements, while 72 per cent found they were more likely to actively seek work.”

A study shows Universal credit will cost more than the system it replaces.