Stop Universal Credit and go back to using the Previous benefits system.

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 I call upon the Government to go back to using the previous benefit system. Universal Credit is not working. 

The system is penalising vulnerable members of society, such as those who are unfit to work, people/families on a low income, single parents and domestic abuse victims who are trying to flee abuse. Let’s give these people a voice.

I am extremely passionate about scrapping Universal Credit. I became a single parent when I left my abusive husband. I had to to leave friends and family behind and start a new life. I am University educated and having always worked, I never imagined that I would one day rely on benefits. What concerns me deeply is the fact that many people in abusive relationships, whose partner is the main bread winner, could easily be forced to stay in the relationship, through concerns that Universal Credit will not support their family. Fleeing abuse is a very stressful experience, and not having enough money to buy basic items or pay rent, could easily tip a person over the edge.

It isn't just single parents who are affected. One of the main problems, with Universal credit, is the time that it is taking to process a claim and receive payment. This means that people who are on a low income are falling behind with rent payments. Falling behind on rent payments means that people are faced with the threat of eviction, through no fault of their own. Being evicted and becoming homeless, has a huge impact on a person's mental and physical well being. Some families have been left without money for food and essential items. If you are alone this is a frightening and daunting experience, but having children to provide for can leave parents feeling helpless and as if they have failed their children.

The way in which the assessment is carried out is not a fair and accurate representation of their earnings. If people receive two payments in an assessment period, due to a bank holiday, their earnings will be assessed on those two payments.

People who are not fit to work are also struggling with the new system. People who are not fit to work are already vulnerable, due to either their poor physical or mental health. Putting pressure on them to find work and not paying them adequately will further have a negative impact on their health.

Under Universal Credit, the government is pushing single parents to work before considering the best interests of the child. When a single parent’s youngest child turns three, they are expected to work sixteen hours a week. Their child might not be ready for nursery or to be with a childminder at this time, but this is not taken into consideration. Single parents have to work twenty five hours a week, when their youngest child starts school. However they are expected to find work that pays the minimum wage, leaving no scope for apprenticeships. If a single parent works twenty five hours a week, Monday to Friday, this also leaves no time to study, allowing parents to better themselves. Under the old system, when a parent’s youngest child turned five, they were expected to work sixteen hours a week. This would leave time for study. Parents are becoming trapped in low paid jobs, unable to take up other opportunities. Forcing people to work twenty five hours a week is also difficult for some parents. People’s individual conditions are not considered. For example, a person who has had to flee domestic abuse and has no support at all from family could easily struggle working twenty five hours a week. If these hours are in school hours, the parent works Monday to Friday, then cares for their children at the weekend, leaving no time for themselves. Such situations are going to lead to burnout. Parents with children who are thirteen have to find a job for thirty five hours a week. Children of this age are too young to be left home alone and yet finding suitable childcare can be a problem. If parents are relying on childcare so that they can work, they then have to pay these fees themselves upfront. The majority of parents on a low income can't afford to do this. Childcare fees can take some time to be paid back to the claimant, leaving them further out of pocket. This is not supporting or encouraging parents to work. Trying to find suitable work, balancing that with parental duties and afford upfront child care are just some of the difficulties experienced.

We are in the year 2019 and this should not be happening. At a time when the Government says that they are investing money into mental health, they are using a benefit system, which is forcing people into poverty and causing homelessness, which are significant factors in causing poor mental health. There have been various reports in the media about people who have considering committing suicide as the new system is causing extreme stress and depression.  There is a huge stigma regarding people on benefits, however a person can become a single parent, become sick or lose their job through no fault of their own. 

I propose that the Government goes back to the old system. People still had to seek work whilst claiming Jobseekers Allowance and single parents had to seek work, once their youngest child reached school age. This was reasonable, it worked and people had enough money to cover basics and pay their rent. Promoting good mental health is paramount and should start with a fair and effective benefits system. No more penalising the sick, poor, single parents and other vulnerable members of society.