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"You bring the 8p bread home": What's it like to live on Universal Credit in Craven?

"You bring the 8p bread home": What's it like to live on Universal Credit in Craven?

Published at 7:02am 4th March 2019. (Updated at 9:28am 4th March 2019)

What is it like to live on Universal Credit? 

  • A Stray FM investigation has been looking into the impact of the new benefits system 
  • It was introduced in Harrogate and Craven in 2016 as part of a pilot 
  • Stray FM has visited Skipton Food Bank to see the impact 
  • One woman tells us she had only £25 a week to spend on food 
  • She also says Skipton food bank has been "essential" 

The new all encompassing benefits system was rolled out in Harrogate and Craven in 2016. 

It was one of 10 areas to pilot the new scheme. 

Universal Credit rolls six benefits into one. You can read more about how it works here.

Stray FM visited Skipton Food Bank, which is based at Skipton Baptist Church. 

There we met one woman, who didn't want to be named. Since claiming Universal Credit, she has only £25 a week to spend on food. 

She said: 

"I had to run a house on the Universal Credit payment, eventually when it came in, on £317 a month

"The impact of having a job, having tax credits, having income support, to having absolutely nothing was huge."

She said with so little to spend on food for herself and her 13-year-old, the food bank has been "essential"

She told us you have to find a way to make ends meet. 

She said:

"You know when the times are when they put things on discount. You go late in the evening, you go with rucksacks and you pile up. You bring the 8p bread home.

"It definitely impacts who you are and your self-esteem and your ability to feel you're worthy and part of the community. 

"But luckily my church family is amazing. It hasn't been as destructive as it could've been."

You can hear more here:

 

Stray FM's Lisa Darvill speaks to one woman who had to turn to Skipton Food Bank after claiming Universal Credit

 

This woman says her situation is improving and things are looking up for her and her family. 

But the manager of Skipton Food Bank, Phil Sage says her story is not unique. 

Phil said: 

"Often people go onto Universal Credit when they have a change in their circumstances.

"People are quite vulnerable anyway at that particular time and then they face this long wait. There's a lot of admin to get through to make the claim, you have to do it digitally which isn't always that easy for people."

Prime Minister Theresa May has described the introduction of the benefit changes as a "steady process", saying ministers are "learning through the process"

Universal Credit is due to be implemented in full across the country by December 2023.

A DWP spokesperson said:

Universal Credit is a force for good, we continue to make improvements where needed and 96% of claimants now receive their payments in full and on time.

“There is a range of specialised support to people struggling with homelessness and housing issues, including help with opening bank accounts, finding accommodation and budgeting. We have also committed to establishing a single point of contact for homelessness issues in every jobcentre.

Foodbank use is a complex issue, and can’t be tied to any one cause.”

The Department for Work and Pensions also claims Universal Credit will mean "an extra 200,000 people moving into work and increasing their incomes". It says the system is simpler and families and disabled people will receive more money per month. 

It adds "a range of stakeholders, including Refuge, Crisis and StepChange responded positively to Secretary of State’s recent speech, setting out an ambitious new future for Universal Credit."

For more information on Skipton Food Bank visit www.skiptonfoodbank.org