Monday, October 14, 2019

Mentally ill man ‘forced to sleep on the streets’ after Universal Credit slashed

A man who suffers from a range of mental health issues claims he has been “forced to sleep on the streets” after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) slashed his Universal Credit payments.

Shaun Precious, 44, has reportedly been claiming the new benefit, which is replacing a number of ‘legacy’ benefits as part of the UK Government’s sweeping welfare reforms, since 2017 and suffers with a number of mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.

Shaun says he didn’t receive letters demanding that he attend a Jobcentre appointment because they were sent to his late father’s address, which then resulted in his benefits being sanctioned by DWP officials.

Photo credit: Pixel whippersnapper edwewwewqew via photopin (license)

Mr Precious says he has since attended a Jobcentre meeting in the hope that the DWP would reinstate his Universal Credit payments, but claims an advisor was left waiting on a call to the DWP for over an hour before her shift ended and the call was closed before reaching a solution.

Shaun told the Hull Daily Mail: “After being sanctioned through no fault of my own, I’ve not been paid since December 18, which has left me unable to pay my rent at my hostel, and has left me starving as I’ve got no money for food either.

“To try and fix the problem, I told the Jobcentre I’d only missed the meetings with them because they had sent the appointment letters to a house I don’t live at, so didn’t receive them, and I was told to come in to speak with one of their advisors to get my payment sorted for the next day.

“I went in to the Job Centre but all the woman I was assigned to did was ring the Universal Credit number and sat there on hold for over an hour trying to get through while listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which I could have just done myself.”

He continued: “Then when it got to 4.30pm, she hung up as she said she had finished her shift, and gave me another number to ring on Monday [February 4], and then kicked me out to just fend for myself with no money and food, and nowhere to sleep but on the streets.

“It’s made me suicidal – I’ve got mental issues, anxiety, depression and COPD and the streets are just no place for me to be, but I’ve got absolutely no money to pay for my hostel, and nothing to eat so I’m going to starve unless I can get to a food bank.

“I’ve had to live on the streets before and it’s so tough and not something I wanted to have to do again – it’s freezing and you have to keep moving all the time and dared not fall asleep in case of getting attacked.

“I’m just so fed up, I really am. I don’t know where to turn and I can’t believe that it has come to this through absolutely no fault of my own.”

“I don’t know what more to do and I just hope that my payments can get sorted soon as it’s really unfair”, he concluded.

Jobcentre Plus sign.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Universal Credit is a force for good, and is working for the vast majority of people.

Sanctions are only used in a very small percentage of cases when people fail to meet their agreed commitments in return for benefits, such as a failure to attend multiple meetings with their Work Coach without good reason.

“We will always contact people to resolve any issues around attendance, using the latest details they have provided us.”

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