Charities and church leaders write to PM and Chancellor on Universal Credit concerns

By agency reporter
October 16, 2018

Fifteen food poverty charities and church leaders are backing a call for a £2 billion Budget investment to help fix Universal Credit.

Today (Tuesday 16 October 2018) they will hand deliver a letter to the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer urging them to take the chance to fix the policy. 

The signatories, including the head of Fareshare, Trussell Trust, Church Action on Poverty and Child Poverty Action Group, as well as four senior leaders of free church denominations, all members of the End Hunger UK campaign, say in the letter:

“We all rely on the welfare safety net being there for us in times of financial stress or hardship. But for many, Universal Credit is currently failing in that task. In areas where it has been rolled out, foodbanks and other food aid providers report an increase in demand, with more people pushed into debt, destitution and hunger as a result of delays, errors, a lack of flexibility, and inadequate support.

"We still believe that there is an opportunity to fix Universal Credit to prevent more people going hungry. As a matter of urgency, we would encourage you to:

  • Reinvest in Universal Credit, by committing at least an additional £2 billion in the forthcoming Budget to reverse cuts and freezes
  • Take action to improve the flexibility and support for people on Universal Credit.
  • Make improvements to Universal Credit, to ensure it does not leave more people at risk of debt and destitution.
  • Make a long-term commitment to ensure Universal Credit provides people with enough income to afford good food on a regular basis.”

One of the signatories, Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, added: “It is not right that a welfare policy is currently dragging many people into deeper poverty and hunger. We need urgent Government action and investment to redress this.”

The call was issued ahead of today’s End Hunger UK conference in Westminster, where charities, emergency food providers and people with direct experience of food poverty will set out their vision for a society in which everyone has access to good food and discuss potential policies to make that a reality. 

The charities have heard many stories of Universal Credit leading to debt, destitution and hunger, including people waiting months for their first payment. 

The specific recommendations for action to Fix Universal Credit are based on feedback from over 70 frontline food aid organisations who have seen at first hand the impact that the rollout of Universal Credit has had on the people they support on a daily or weekly basis.

* End Hunger UK is a coalition that has a vision of a UK where everyone has access to good food, and nobody has to go to bed hungry. It is supported by many national organisations, including: Baptists Together; Child Poverty Action Group; Church Action on Poverty; the Church of England; the Church of Scotland; Fareshare; First Steps Nutrition; Food Bank As It Is; Food Ethics Council; Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty; The Food Foundation; the Independent Food Aid Network; Food Matters; Magic Breakfast; the Methodist Church; Nourish Scotland; Oxfam; Quaker Peace and Social Witness; Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming; The Trussell Trust; and the United Reformed Church.  http://endhungeruk.org

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