Universal Credit was brought in by the Conservatives to simplify the welfare system and replace six other benefits. That was supposedly the plan. In reality, UC has caused multiple problems for so many people, even Public Finance news says it’s “the cruellest benefit cut in history.” But the truth is, there is another that is even worse, more destructive and with deadlier outcomes.
Stories now litter the internet of these cruel cuts to the most vulnerable. Here are just some from people on the front lines of the war against the poor.
Among them, a disabled man told how he had received a Universal Credit payment of just 1p and in another case of payment miscalculations, one couple said they’re struggling to survive on just £1 a day.
Universal credit ‘hits people with poor mental health‘ – A woman who claimed universal credit after leaving her job because of mental health problems was left with no income had to move away from her family and friends.
Another was plunged into debt and had his home emptied by bailiffs, whilst in a similar case, a mother of three says she has nearly been made homeless twice in due to the new Universal Credit benefits system.
A staggering 50 per cent of people on UC are now in rent arrears or struggling to meet mortgage payments due to mass late payments. Citizens Advice now confirms this as they have found that half of all claimants seeking their help are now being threatened with eviction.
Part of the result of the failure of UC manifests itself in other areas. For instance, more than a third of landlords now refuse to let properties to people who are on Universal Credit or housing benefit. These shock findings actually came in a new Government survey.
Universal credit has now become a serious threat to public health, doctors have said after a study revealed that the stress of coping with the new benefits system had so profoundly affected claimants’ mental health that some considered suicide. The report concludes that universal credit is actively creating poverty and destitution and that it was “seriously undermining” efforts to prevent ill-health in one of the UK’s most deprived areas.
In fact, the lead researcher herself, Mandy Cheetham, said the participant interviews were so distressing she undertook a suicide prevention course midway through the study.
As if further evidence was needed, it was reported that a struggling young mum took her own life after she feared losing her benefits under the Universal Credit scheme. The inquest heard that Amy Nice, 21, had been suffering from severe depression and anxiety following a diagnosis for kidney disease but had felt ‘pressurised’ to find work under new rules for claimants.
After leaving a note saying she ‘couldn’t see a way forward’, as a direct result of her situation, Amy dropped off her young son at school then hanged herself.
Then, just a few days ago, it was reported that the Department of Work and Pensions denied the existence of a script deployed to Universal Credit call centre workers to deflect claimants’ questions about the benefit payment. Copies of this ‘deflection script’ to get people claiming the money off the phone have been discovered, claimed a report by Sky News.
Amongst the thousands and thousands of similar stories, it is hard to read what comes next but there’s an inevitability about being cruel to those most in need because as it turns out, Universal Credit is one element of a system designed to deny benefit payments in the first place. And with evidence of a ‘deflection script’ against claimants of UC, you might be surprised to know that this is nothing new. Indeed, it’s been going on for 25 years.
Thousands of sick and disabled people have tragically lost their lives within months of being refused disability benefits by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Official DWP data revealed that 7,990 people died within six months of having a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) rejected by cruel and callous benefit officials.
Of these, 3,680 died within just three months of having their PIP applications rejected by the DWP. The shocking figures were admitted by the Tory minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton MP, in a written answer to Labour MP Madeleine Moon.
Ms Moon also discovered that 17,070 people have died waiting for their PIP claims to be assessed by DWP decision makers. It comes as separate DWP figures show that 72% of PIP claimants who take their cases to a social security tribunal go on to win their appeals.
The centre of these problems goes back further than being reported though. Little did anyone realise that the adoption of the long-term sickness and disability benefit known as the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in October 2008 would generate death, despair and preventable harm to so many of the nation’s most vulnerable claimants resulting from the use of the fatally flawed Work Capability Assessment or ESA.
The government released mortality statistics – or rather, was forced to after several freedom of information requests last year – that show more than 80 people a month are dying after being declared “fit for work”.
There is a much darker side to this story than even the awful fact that people have died as a direct result of government policy against those with long-term disabilities and illnesses. Reading the article ‘Killed By The State‘ by Mo Stewart is at best sobering. But the truth is, it resonates with the unfolding disaster that Universal Credit and PIP payments are proving to be as more recently reported – but with deadlier consequences.
“Each additional 10,000 people reassessed (using the WCA) in each area was associated with an additional 6 suicides, 2700 cases of reported mental health problems, and the prescribing of an additional 7020 antidepressant items.”
Part of the reason that Universal credit is a disaster and will continue to be so is that the project to deny benefits has similarities to denying benefits to the disabled and those with long-term illnesses, which has been ongoing, covertly for some 25 years. Mo Stewart continues:
“Guided by corporate America for twenty-five years, the UK welfare reforms and austerity measures, as adopted by successive UK governments, were always destined to cause death, despair and preventable harm on route to the demolition of the UK welfare state to eventually be replaced by private healthcare insurance. The question remains as to how many more chronically ill and disabled people will die when, quite literally, killed by the State?”
Read: Killed by the State by Mo Stewart – a former healthcare professional, a female disabled veteran and lead independent researcher in the UK who exposed the long-standing plan to demolish the UK welfare state, to be eventually replaced with private healthcare insurance.
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