Letter from welfare advice worker on introduction of Universal Credit benefits
UK claimants deeply anxious, even suicidal, due to welfare sanctions
21 November 2017
The World Socialist Web Site received this submission on the introduction of Universal Credit in the UK from a welfare advice worker. It was written in response to a November 4 article, “Escalation of Universal Credit roll-out in UK threatens millions more with poverty.”
Universal Credit is a benefit payment system for working-age people that merges all entitlements into one payment. It has been estimated that it will cost 2 million in-work families £1,600 a year and more than 1 million out-of-work families £2,300 a year.
I am employed as an advice worker, working in an inner-city area, providing people who suffer with mental health problems advice and assistance to access benefits.
I have worked in this field, with people with mental health problems, for over twenty years. In my time I have seen changes to welfare benefits, housing, with more and more people struggling to make ends meet, and who live from day to day.
The question of the impact of Universal Credit is discussed in the article in some detail, and the author correctly states that this benefit will hit the most vulnerable people particularly hard.
I think it is important that we start by saying that a life on benefits has never been a holiday. With the implementation of the Welfare Reform Bill in 2008, under the then Labour Government, and the introduction of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with its Work Capability Assessments (WCA)—medicals brought in to supposedly measure a person’s fitness to work—there was a seismic shift implemented in how benefit claimants are treated.
The WCA has caused misery…