Poor Christ­mas for claimants warns char­ity

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - NEWS - By Joel Lamy joel.lamy@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @PTJoelLamy

Job­seek­ers in Peter­bor­ough could be left short of money at Christ­mas due to a new ben­e­fits sys­tem, a city char­ity is warn­ing.

Peter­bor­ough Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau (PCAB) be­lieves Novem­ber 15 could not be a worse time to fully roll-out Univer­sal Credit in the city.

The con­tro­ver­sial sys­tem com­bines six ben­e­fits into one monthly pay­ment, but it has been crit­i­cised be­cause re­cip­i­ents do not re­ceive their first full pay­ment for six weeks, with some wait­ing longer.

Nicky Rees, re­search and cam­paigns co­or­di­na­tor for PCAB, based in St Mark’s Street, said: “It’s going to im­pact on our claimants and we are try­ing to pre­pare for it as well as we can.

“Be­ing so close to Christ­mas could not have come at a worse time. If you put a claim in at the start of De­cem­ber you will get no money un­til after Christ­mas.”

PCAB is hold­ing an open day on Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 31 from 11am to 1pm to re­cruit new vol­un­teers as it ex­pects to be far busier once Univer­sal Credit is fully rolled-out.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Keith Jones said the new ben­e­fits sys­tem is a good thing, but that im­ple­ment­ing it is a chal­lenge.

He added: “If peo­ple come in and see us and say it’s about Univer­sal Credit they will jump the queue.”

Juliet Welch, food­bank man­ager in Peter­bor­ough, said: “We do ex­pect to see an in­crease in clients and we hope that we can sup­port them. We ran low in the sum­mer due to al­ready see­ing a 27 per cent in­crease in clients from last year.”

In Peter­bor­ough, 4,178 work­ing age sin­gle claimants are now on Univer­sal Credit, with the full roll-out to in­clude all other claimants.

A Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions spokesman said Univer­sal Credit is help­ing peo­ple into work and that re­cip­i­ents can re­ceive an ad­vanced pay­ment in the first

Nicky Rees out­side the Peter­bor­ough Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau in St Mark’s Street

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