“A benefit system which drives families into debt and leaves people hungry is a failing benefit system” says Churches

The Methodist Church

News release

15 June 2018

A benefit system which drives families into debt and leaves people hungry is a failing benefit system” say Churches

Speaking on behalf of the Baptist Union, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church, Paul Morrison commented on the release of the National Audit Office (NAO) report, Rolling out Universal Credit, saying,


“Churches have repeatedly expressed concerns about Universal Credit and the damaging effects it is having on communities. The NAO’s findings are deeply concerning but not a surprise.” [1]


The NAO report states that that Universal Credit is not value for money, failing to meet its financial objectives. Most importantly it is the first official document to take seriously the concerns of claimants and acknowledge the problems they are facing.

Churches around the country are supporting people who are affected by Universal Credit. It is clear that lives are being damaged by Universal Credit.  


Paul explained:


“I met a single mum at a parent and toddlers’ group in West London. She cried when she told me about her experience of Universal Credit. She is worse off, struggling to make ends meet and as a result has to stop her childcare course at college.


“The policy that cut her benefits was intended to “incentivise work”. In reality it made her life more difficult and closed down her opportunities. Her story is sadly unexceptional.


“Half of people receiving Universal Credit report going into debt. This is the result of delayed, inadequate, and irregular payments. It makes budgeting impossible and can make debt inevitable. The DWP’s own figures show that 4 in 10 people reported serious financial difficulties, whilst 1 in 10 waited more than 11 weeks for payment. In Universal Credit areas foodbank use went up 52% [2], whereas in other areas it was 13%. The case is incontrovertible. Universal Credit is failing, and the poorest are suffering the consequences.


“A benefit system which drives families into debt and leaves them hungry is a failing benefit system.


“Universal Credit was designed by people who were highly literate, with access to computers and a full bank account. As soon as the system met people who didn’t fit this model it began to fail.


“Until the voice of those who use the benefit system is listened to and valued, Universal Credit will continue to cause harm to the communities it is meant to serve.”


The Churches call on the Government to:


      • halt the roll-out of Universal Credit

commission independent research into the effects of Universal Credit

engage with the people who use the system to design an approach that meets their needs.

[1] Churches detailed briefing on Universal Credit http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/uc-poverty-by-design


[2] http://www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/news/latest-news/all-news/universal-credit-is-driving-families-to-food-banks

Paul Morrison is available for interview

About the Methodist Church

The Methodist Church is one of the largest Christian churches serving Great Britain, with around 200,000 members and regular contact with nearly 500,000 people. It has 4,650 churches in Great Britain, and also maintains links with other Methodist churches with a worldwide total membership of over 80 million. Its activities, both alone and with ecumenical and secular partners, are based on four aims known as Our Calling:
•   To increase awareness of God’s presence and to celebrate God’s love
•   To help people to grow and learn as Christians through mutual support and care
•   To be a good neighbour to people in need and to challenge injustice
•   To make more followers of Jesus Christ.

Registered charity no. 1132208.

For more information contact:

Michael Ivatt
Lead Media Officer

Methodist Church House

25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR

T 0207 467 5191

M 07881 783812

E ivattm@methodistchurch.org.uk

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