Fewer than half of residents in Tower Hamlets received correct Universal Credit payment.
Results of a new survey commissioned jointly by the Mayor of London and Tower Hamlets Council show 46% of residents surveyed did not receive the correct payment when they migrated to Universal Credit.
As of June 2018, 28% of claimant households in Poplar and Limehouse were claiming UC. This is approximately 5,500 households. The remaining 72% of claimant households were still claiming ‘legacy benefits’ such as housing benefit and child tax credit.
Statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions show that across Tower Hamlets, 288 UC claimants were sanctioned in May 2018, the equivalent of 2.7% of all claimants.
Universal Credit has been in the news nationally with Ministers under fire following the chaotic roll out, and the Chancellor forced to allocate extra £1.7bn for Universal Credit work allowances to stave off criticism that people were worse off. However this is less than a quarter of the £7bn of welfare cuts planned over the next 5 years.
Claimants have also raised concerns about the shift from weekly to monthly payments as well as the shift to accessing information online.
Tower Hamlets Council is targeting £1 million from the Mayor’s Tackling Poverty Fund to help those affected by the impacts of Universal Credit through providing advice services. In order to more fully understand the impacts of Universal Credit on households with children, the council has also commissioned research from the Child Poverty Action Group.
Tower Hamlets Councillors voted in support of a motion at the Full Council meeting on 21st November calling for Universal Credit to be stopped completely, and that a genuinely comprehensive system should be introduced in which nobody will be worse off.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said:
“We know that Universal Credit is hitting our residents hard and the Chancellor’s Budget did not offer them much respite. The additional money for Universal Credit work allowances won’t stop the planned cuts, let alone reverse them and this survey goes to show the real strain it is putting residents under.”
Cllr Rachel Blake, Deputy Mayor for Regeneration and Air Quality, with responsibility for tackling poverty and welfare reform said:
“This survey highlights the devastating experience of Tower Hamlets residents on Universal Credit. Delayed and inaccurate payments are making it harder for residents to budget and forcing them to borrow money to cover their costs. The Government should set up a social security system that supports people and works for everyone.”