“It’s hit and miss what you get on Universal Credit”
Lisa has been plunged into debt with the move to Universal Credit (UC); she is paying back an advance payment of £45 a month and now has rent arrears which were caused by the move to UC. The amount she receives on Universal Credit changes every month and despite working 30 hours a week, the Jobcentre has advised her to find a second job. She is struggling.
Lisa’s experience is not uncommon. Gingerbread has and will continue to hear from single parents struggling with debt, fluctuations in their income, unaffordable childcare and high housing costs. It doesn’t have to be like this.
Universal Credit will impact a significant number of single parents. Currently about 1 in 4 of all claiming households are single parent families. Too many of these families are left worse off under Universal Credit including many who move into work. Universal Credit can work better for single parents and their children.
Ahead of the Government’s Budget next week, the Chancellor has the opportunity to support single parent families who are on or will be on Universal Credit. Gingerbread is calling for the Government to reverse the cuts to the work allowance which currently sees the average single parent lose £800 a year, with some single parents losing up to £2,000 compared to current benefits.
We would also like to see a reduction in the five week wait for the first payment under Universal Credit.
But it’s not only for central Government to reform. Jobcentres can also play their part by supporting single parents with the upfront costs of childcare through the Flexible Support Fund; suspending new job-seeking requirements for parents of three and four year olds until affordable childcare and flexible work is the norm; and supporting families better with payments.
Universal Credit is failing to meet the Government’s objectives of a simplified benefits system and supporting families into work. Change is urgently required to make Universal Credit work for single parents like Lisa up and down the country.