Monday, November 18, 2019
Home Universal Credit traps vulnerable people in abusive relationships, MP's told

Universal Credit traps vulnerable people in abusive relationships, MP’s told

Universal Credit single household payment "plays into the hands of a controlling, abusive partner", Work and Pensions Committee told.

“Lack of meaningful training” for DWP staff means that some of the most vulnerable Universal Credit claimants could be left trapped in abusive relationships and effectively tied “to the hands of a controlling, abusive partner”, MP’s have heard.

The Commons Work and Pensions Committee is currently investigating the impact of Universal Credit on survivors of domestic abuse, including victims of financial abuse, and heard how front-line DWP staff “do not feel confident that they have the skills to deal with Domestic Abuse cases due to the lack of meaningful training”.

Under the current design of Universal Credit, payments are typically made to a single household. Under this system of payment a controlling partner may try to forceably commandeer the payments for themselves, leaving the victim  – who may have attempted to leave the relationship – tied to their abuser for financial security.

MP’s were told “the single household payment plays into the hands of a controlling, abusive partner”, but the idea of splitting payments between the two parties – without adequate training for staff – is also not without risk.

Evidence submitted to the Committee by the PCS Union states: “Work coaches may be supportive and encouraging and be able to signpost the claimant to help, but while the claimant is still living in the abusive household, the coach cannot implement the official ‘easement'”—a temporary lifting of conditionality for abuse victims.

PCS added that “for claimants still in the household experiencing financial controlling abuse, a split payment of UC is not necessarily helpful or indeed realistic or safe to implement”.

They continue: “The claimant would need to be able to ‘explain’ the reason for a split payment to the abusive partner, and would need to set up their own bank account – difficult in itself – in order to receive the money.

“A split payment of the UC personal allowance element also causes any UC rent element to be paid directly to the landlord which potentially ties the claimant to the household further.”

Frank Field MP (Labour), Chair of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, said: “Another disturbing front is opening up in the implementation of the Government’s flagship welfare reform policy Universal Credit.

“Up until now, the focus has been on how brutally some constituents are treated once they are pushed onto Universal Credit. Now we have the views from the other side of the counter, of those civil servants who try loyally to carry out the Government’s wishes.

“The lack of training and expertise at the front line in JCPs is a thread running through all of our benefits inquiries – and now it is becoming apparent to the public how this is leaving them unprepared to deal with the most vulnerable claimants.”

The Committee also heard evidence from the food bank charity Trussell Trust, who highlighted a 52% upsurge in demand for emergency food parcels in Universal Credit rollout areas.

Trussell Trust also warned that some components of the “Universal Support” which are intended to help households in their transition to the new benefit, such as advice and debt management support, is not being offered to Universal Credit claimants.

Join Us On Social Media


Trending Now

A homeless person dies every 19 hours in austerity Britain

Services are failing to protect homelessness people, say campaigners.

UK pensioners ‘suffering the worst poverty rate in western Europe’

Tories warned against further rises to the state pension age.

Man wins Supreme Court ‘bedroom tax’ case

Supreme Court ruling offers hope to a number of disabled people hit by the cruel bedroom tax policy.

MS sufferers failed by ‘humiliating’ and ‘incorrect’ PIP assessments, says charity

Charity says MS sufferers are being failed "at every stage" of the disability benefit assessment process.

‘Pensionless Pensioner’ Brands UK Government Most Brutal ‘Regime’ In Living Memory

Woman stripped of her right to state pension says the UK Government doesn't care whether vulnerable people live or die.

The Latest

Lib Dems pledge to scrap the benefit cap and ‘cruel’ two-child limit

Lib Dems pledge to invest £6bn a year to "strengthen the welfare system", despite endorsing many of the cuts that have weakened it.

Shock at 160% rise in child suicides in Scotland

Scottish Government admits that the rising suicide rate is "heartbreaking".

Benefit claimants told to fork out £1400 to record disability assessments

Disabled people told to pay for expensive specialist equipment if they want benefit assessments to be recorded.

Benefit payment dates over Christmas and New Year 2019-20

You may receive benefit payments early over Christmas and New Year. Check here to see if this applies to you and your family.

MS sufferers failed by ‘humiliating’ and ‘incorrect’ PIP assessments, says charity

Charity says MS sufferers are being failed "at every stage" of the disability benefit assessment process.

Follow Us


More Articles Like This