Anxiety and hunger: We show the reality of Universal Credit in Yorkshire
We’ve been helping to show why Universal Credit needs to be fixed.
Readers of The Yorkshire Post have been learning in recent days about the crises caused by Universal Credit.
Church Action on Poverty contributed to a special report, which saw articles published in every edition from 22 to 29 September.
We worked with people who had personal experience of Universal Credit, to show what was going wrong and how Universal Credit can and must be fixed.
In Yorkshire (as elsewhere), delays, errors and inflexibility have meant many people moving on to Universal Credit have been cut adrift and swept into debt, destitution and hunger. Fixing Universal Credit, such as by creating greater flexibility and support for applicants, could help people to stay afloat. In the longer term, society and the UK Government must ensure that Universal Credit enables people to keep their head above water and afford good food on a regular basis.
Here is a selection of articles that ran in The Yorkshire Post:
- Campaigners call for review of Universal Credit, including comment and insight from our director Niall Cooper
- Leeds and Sheffield are bracing themselves for Universal Credit – includes comments from Nick Waterfield, of Church Action on Poverty’s Sheffield group
- MP: “We’re at a perfect storm”
- Here’s the impact Universal Credit is having in affluent areas such as York & Harrogate
- Rural Yorkshire: One food bank manager says UC is leading to more hunger
- Here’s the picture on the coast. One local contributor said: “Anybody sensible looking at how Universal Credit has been rolled out would say it’s been a disaster”
- The paper also looked at the impact Universal Credit has had on housing, highlighting these concerns that landlords were becoming unwilling to rent to people on Universal Credit. They reported the case of Tony and Sue, from York, who spent seven weeks in a tent as they endured the move to Universal Credit. Tony said: “Universal Credit does not work, and it’s the fault of the system. It doesn’t help you get back on your feet, it traps you. The staff at the York Jobcentre have been helpful but they have to fulfil their duties and the system does not work.”
- The paper also ran contributions from two former businessmen in Harrogate, both of whom had found themselves unexpectedly in poverty and who said Universal Credit was not working as well as it could. You can read their full stories here: Niel, who says he would not be able to eat if it wasn’t for the compassion of a local church and Paul, who says Universal Credit needs to pay more if recipients are to be able to afford good food.
- Finally, on Saturday, the paper closed the series with a guest column by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who backed calls for changes to Universal Credit and backed the End Hunger solutions.
At Church Action on Poverty, we believe people with personal experience of poverty-related issues are the real experts. We should all spend more time listening intently to what they have to say.
Universal Credit can and should be fixed. Church Action on Poverty is part of the End Hunger UK campaign, which is running a petition calling for changes.
- Action to improve the flexibility and support for people on Universal Credit.
- Improvements to Universal Credit, to ensure it does not leave more people at risk of debt and destitution.
- A long-term commitment to ensure Universal Credit provides people with enough income to afford good food on a regular basis
Have you signed the petition yet? If not, please do so and encourage your friends, colleagues, family and neighbours to do likewise. You can sign it online – and download paper sheets to collect more signatures – here.
The work with The Yorkshire Post was handled by our media unit coordinator, Gavin Aitchison, a former newspaper reporter. He says: “It can take courage to tell your story widely, especially if you’ve not worked with the media before. We are always keen to work with reputable journalists and media outlets such as The Yorkshire Post, where there is a genuine interest in exploring the issue fully, and where people’s stories can reach the audience they deserve.”