Families have told of their experiences on Universal Credit
Families have told how they spiralled into debt after being shifted onto Universal Credit while, across the UK, information uncovered by JPIMedia Investigations reveals how more and more people are being forced into financial turmoil. Read their full stories, and the DWP's response, here, here and here.
Barry Graham, 46, considered killing himself after he was moved onto Universal Credit just days before Christmas, leaving him unable to buy gifts for his children or put food on the table for seven weeks.
Savannagh Burke, 21, goes without food in order to feed her baby son because she is barely managing, after going from working three jobs to struggling in two years.
Mum-of-two Shelley Murphy, 33, spiralled into rent arrears of 2,500 after going without a benefits payment from January to March, and said her monthly sum of 560.45 doesnt cover the 629 rent.
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Chris Bloy, 42, found himself thousands of pounds in rent arrears after having his benefits unfairly cut back. But instead of evicting him, his landlord helped him fight back.
Garry Byrne was told to get around a bug in the system by lying about his income. The recorded call led to an investigation.
Kayleigh Richardson, 27, said she felt she would be better off quitting her part-time job in a care home because of the deductions in her benefits as a result of her earnings.
Mark Sorensen, 28, a self-employed furniture designer, could only afford to eat one meal a day after the DWP imposed an earnings target on him
The Kensington Foundation, which aims to promote the relief of homelessness, poverty, deprivation, and distress, said it has seen an increase in hardship since Universal Credit was brought in.
Mark Butcher, a homeless campaigner, said advance loans of up to 1,200 being paid into an addict or vulnerable person's account could lead to homelessness. "Im afraid it will not be spent paying the landlord," he said.
A heavily pregnant woman, 21, said she was forced to rely on her ex-boyfriend after she was told she didn't qualify for help - despite working part-time and studying at university.
Elle Wilson, 18, and Johnathan Downie, 19, feared losing their home after falling into thousands of pounds of debt. They were given cash they were owed by the DWP after JPIMedia raised their case.
Samantha Willis, 38, said she ended up owing hundreds in unpaid rent after being moved onto Universal Credit when she was penalised for taking her children on their first holiday.
Cleaner Kim Rabbitts said she struggled to afford the bus fare to work after being moved onto Universal Credit in February.
The 45-year-old said the five-week wait for the first payment left her short.
Gordon Marsden, for Blackpool South, said: "Its an absolute shambles. Universal Credit needs to be halted and re-examined.
Labour MP for Wigan, Lisa Nandy, said: "In recent years, Ive dealt with hundreds of cases of people left struggling, destitute, or stripped of their dignity after being sanctioned for being a few minutes late or attending family funerals."
Wyre Tory councillor Roger Berry said in a recent report some landlords are refusing to take tenants who claim Universal Credit. Council officer Mark Broadhurst said there was a fear there may be a delay in landlords getting their rent.
Chloe Elizabeth, a working mum-of-three, gets help with childcare but said but she added: However, I dont actually get the help until six weeks after Ive already had to pay it.
Ive had to loan money from elsewhere to pay for my childcare so I can return to work after I ended my maternity leave.
The Trussell Trust, which runs food banks up and down the country, wants the five-week delay to the first payment axed, and said a 13 per cent rise in food parcels being handed out in Lancashire has also been recorded in the past year.