Peo­ple have been left ‘short-changed’ by Uni­ver­sal Credit

Llanelli Star - - LETTERS - Ian Lewis @IanLewis80 [email protected]­line.co.uk 07790 591150

FIG­URES from the Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions (DWP) sug­gest a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of peo­ple in Llanelli have been left short-changed by Uni­ver­sal Credit – lead­ing to ac­cu­sa­tions that the sys­tem is “botched”.

Re­spond­ing to a let­ter sent by Llanelli AM Lee Wa­ters, the DWP have said that up to 15% of peo­ple mov­ing on to Uni­ver­sal Credit re­ceive a late, or non-full first pay­ment, and that 5% of claimants still haven’t re­ceived a pay­ment af­ter five weeks.

Uni­ver­sal Credit is a sin­gle monthly pay­ment which re­placed six meansteste­d ben­e­fits and tax cred­its: in­come-based JSA, Hous­ing Ben­e­fit, Work­ing Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, in­com­ere­lated ESA and In­come Sup­port.

Mr Wa­ters said: “It’s ap­palling that the Tory gov­ern­ment in West­min­ster has botched the roll out of Uni­ver­sal Credit so spec­tac­u­larly.

“They’ve shame­lessly taken money out of peo­ple’s pock­ets through con­tin­ued aus­ter­ity, and man­aged to do a bad job of man­ag­ing the new sys­tem, too.”

He added: “The fig­ures I’ve seen are stag­ger­ing, and this is clearly a prob­lem with the whole set-up of Uni­ver­sal Credit.”

Full roll out of Uni­ver­sal Credit be­gan in Llanelli in De­cem­ber, and by Fe­bru­ary of this year 1,000 peo­ple in Llanelli were in re­ceipt of the new ben­e­fit.

DWP’s own fig­ures sug­gest that 150 of th­ese peo­ple did not re­ceive a pay­ment on time, with an­other 50 wait­ing more than the tar­get five weeks for pay­ment, af­fect­ing peo­ple and fam­i­lies’ abil­ity to plan and pay bills on time.

If the pat­tern con­tin­ues, th­ese num­bers will grow con­sid­er­ably as Uni­ver­sal Credit rolls out in Llanelli.

Mr Wa­ters ar­gued that more than 500 house­holds could be left wait­ing longer than five weeks for their first pay­ment.

He said this wait will threaten peo­ple’s abil­ity to pay reg­u­lar house­hold bills, such as rent, gas, elec­tric­ity and coun­cil tax.

Mr Wa­ters added: “The Welsh Labour Gov­ern­ment can help ease the pain of Uni­ver­sal Credit here in Wales, such as pro­vid­ing sup­port with coun­cil tax pay­ments and end­ing the threat of im­pris­on­ment for late pay­ment.

“We have to see a change in gov­ern­ment in West­min­ster, to one that sup­ports the vul­ner­a­ble rather than pun­ish­ing them.”

In re­sponse to Mr Wa­ters’ con­cerns, a DWP spokesman said: “The ma­jor­ity of Uni­ver­sal Credit claims in Llanelli are paid in full and on time.

“No one has to wait to be paid as 100% ad­vances are avail­able from day one of a claim.”

Pho­tos for Harp Week­end at the Botanic Gar­den of Wales in Lla­narthne

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