CHARLOTTE HUGHES believes Universal Credit is proving to be another source of hardship and humiliation for the vulnerable.
IN APRIL 2013, Ashton-under-Lyne jobcentre along with Oldham and Wigan were chosen to “trial” Universal Credit — the government’s new flagship programme.
Although there had been murmurings about what Universal Credit might comprise of, no-one actually knew and so it was impossible to predict the amount of suffering it would cause.
We could predict that it wouldn’t be pleasant, though.
The new legislation crept in slowly, often without announcement. I shared any information that I found only to be met with disbelief and abuse.
Everything changed when the repercussions of Universal Credit became very obvious. I would see person after person leave the jobcentre either in tears or extremely frustrated.
The handing out of sanctions was, in my eyes, totally out of control. They were being handed out in a pernicious way targeting the most vulnerable.
But do benefit sanctions actually work?
There is no evidence to show that they actually do. Not only has the government been proven to be dishonest about the reasons for enforcing sanctions — in the sense that there is no evidence to base these reasons on — it has also neglected to monitor the harmful effects that imposing sanctions upon thousands of people actually has.
It is clear that sanctions do have a negative effect on people’s abilities to find work. How can anyone look for work when they lack the basic necessities of life?
In recent years, cases of malnutrition have seen a resurgence; some hospitals now even have foodbanks in order to issue patients with food parcels to prevent further illness.