Bid to calm Spain pain UNI­VER­SALLY DIS­CRED­ITED

Ben­e­fit sparks tur­moil

The People - - NEWS FEATURES & - By Keir Mudie DEPUTY PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR

FAM­I­LIES are fall­ing be­hind with the rent as the con­tro­ver­sial Uni­ver­sal Credit takes its toll.

And house­holds are re­sort­ing to loan sharks as the new ben­e­fit is rolled out across the coun­try.

A re­port re­veals that among claimants who pay rent, 41 per cent are in ar­rears, with 82 per cent say­ing it is for the first time.

The study car­ried out for the Depart­ment for Work and THOU­SANDS of peo­ple demon­strated in Madrid and Barcelona yes­ter­day in a last-ditch at­tempt to stave off a na­tional cri­sis amid Cat­alo­nia’s threat to se­cede from the rest of Spain.

Protests were held si­mul­ta­ne­ously un­der the slo­gan “Shall We Talk?” in an ef­fort to push leg­is­la­tors in both cities to start ne­go­ti­at­ing.

Cat­alo­nia’s re­gional pres­i­dent Car­les Pen­sions also shows large num­bers are forced to bor­row, with seven per cent turn­ing to doorstep lenders and five per cent tak­ing pay­day loans.

Al­most 30 per cent rely on a loan from fam­ily and friends.

Ma­jor is­sues with the new ben­e­fit – such as harsh sanc­tions and de­lays in pay­ments – have caused mis­ery and sparked anger.

Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice chief ex­ec­u­tive Gil­lian Guy said: “Many peo­ple are strug­gling to make ends meet Puigde­mont has vowed to make good last Sun­day’s dis­puted ref­er­en­dum on se­ces­sion won by the Yes side. Mean­while, Span­ish Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy warned that the vote was il­le­gal and Cat­alo­nia was go­ing nowhere.

Cat­alo­nia’s re­gional chief for busi­ness Santi Vila said he was push­ing for “a new op­por­tu­nity for di­a­logue” with Span­ish au­thor­i­ties. while they wait for their first Uni­ver­sal Credit pay­ment.

“As the Gov­ern­ment pushes ahead with thee ac­cel­er­ated roll­out, it’s morere cru­cial than ever it ad­dresses ddresses prob­lems withth the ben­e­fit and en­sures any­one who needs it can get the fi­nan­cial an­cial and prac­ti­cal sup­port port they need while ap­ply­ing.”ly­ing.” Uni­ver­sal Credit dit re­places six x means- tested ben­e­fits and tax cred­its with one pay­ment. Char­lotte Hughes, a cam­paigner in Ash­ton-un­der-Lyne, Gtr Manch­ester – a pi­lot area for the new scheme – said: “Uni­ver­sal Credit is hell on earth.” The sanc­tions rate for uni­ver­sal credit claiman claimants is three times as high as it is for Job­seeker’s Al­lowance, a sep­a­rate re­port shows. There are cur­rently 533,000 peop peo­ple on Uni­ver­sal Credit in Eng Eng­land and Wales, with aro around 50,000 new clai claims each month.

CAM­PAIGNER: Char­lotte Hughes

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