photo JJ Ellison/CC

photo JJ Ellison/CC   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Scott Jones

Nightmare stories of the misery faced by people receiving Universal Credit made headlines in 2018. At the start of 2019 around 1.4 million families are now receiving Universal Credit.

And it will not be a happy new year for many more as the figure receiving the benefit payments is due to rise to 7 million – many of them this year.

Universal Credit is the Tory-designed means-tested benefit that combines and cuts several existing benefits.

The millions already claiming it have faced delays of months before receiving any money, leaving them with nothing to pay bills, rent and even buy food.


The cost to the government of implementing Universal Credit is estimated at a huge £1.9 billion. But the cost to those at the sharp end of the roll-out is far greater.

Christmas was far from merry for one mother who revealed she had to resort to putting free sugar sachets in her little girl’s stocking after the switch to Universal Credit left her barely able to cope. She hoped she would be able to get hold of a branch to use as a Christmas tree.

One man was left so desperate he attempted to kill himself while on the phone to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), saying: “I thought my life insurance was more likely to pay out in time to help my family.”

The ex-ambulance worker faced a ten-week delay in receiving his benefits. In a sick twist he received them the same day he attempted suicide.

While being transferred to Universal Credit, my mother was left with a tenner a week to live on.

Under pressure, the government has been forced to delay the roll-out for some, and DWP secretary Amber Rudd claims she is willing to ‘listen and learn’.

But we say: stop the roll-out and scrap Universal Credit altogether. Replace it with a welfare system and wages which guarantee everyone a decent standard of living.

The Socialist Party calls for:
  • Reverse all benefit cuts: for living benefits without compulsion
  • Kick out the privateers: bring all outsourced and privatised public services back in-house
  • End austerity: for fully funded, publicly owned public services
  • For a minimum wage of at least £10 an hour, as a step towards a real living wage for all