VIEWERS slammed “middle class morons” behind the Universal Credit scheme after watching a sex assault victim forced to rely on loans.
They accused those in charge of putting their heads “in the sand” after seeing the BBC documentary Inside the Welfare State.
In last night’s episode of the three-part series 20-year-old Jenny – a sex attack victim – is seen struggling to afford her £60-a-week rent.
She dreamed of becoming an air hostess and was a hairdresser but now battles anxiety and struggles to pay her rent.
Jenny makes £6.30 an hour on a zero hour contract at a restaurant but is forced to apply for a £250 advance on her benefits.
This means she has essentially taken a loan which will be taken off from future payments.
And a mum-of-one, Paula, also told how she’s in debt “up to her eyeballs” after taking an advance loan – after moving in with her partner meant they needed to move into the controversial credit system.
She says her family was left with £17 a day to live on and she was forced to visit food banks.
Viewer Martyn G tweeted: “Just watching the BBC programme on Universal Credit and these Middle Class Morons who have been running the DWP have been hiding their fat heads in the sand with regards to the Delay in payments having a direct effect on hardship and foodbank use!”
My stress levels have been through the roof. I’ve been really anxious. I have that feeling in my throat where I’m being smothered.
Paula, mum on Universal Credit
And another wrote: “Feeling saddened…seeing how just one unfortunate event can put people into situations that seem near impossible to live in, with no clear way of getting out.
“Thinking about just how many people live like this too.”
Kerri Johnson tweeted: “I quote ‘it’s just the way the system is’? That is the issue though isn’t it? that the current system is driven by a ‘process’ but no thought for the impact on the person!”
With no savings to get them through the up to five-week wait for their first Universal Credit payment, Paula and her partner ended up taking out two advance loans worth £1,725.
The problem is that while “advance payments” can see families through this period, they are effectively repayable loans deducted from each monthly Universal Credit payment for the first year.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Advances are available to help people access money quickly, and there are safeguards in place to ensure repayments are affordable and spread over a lengthy period of time.”
The Sun has demanded the government reduce this waiting time to two weeks as part of our Make Universal Credit Work campaign.
WHAT IS AN ADVANCED PAYMENT?
An advance payment is a loan that you can ask for to help you through the five week wait for your first Universal Credit payment.
It’s designed for people who need help to pay the bills or cover other costs while they wait.
Claimants can borrow up to 100 per cent of their estimated payment but you can also ask for less.
It’s an interest-free loan which means you will only pay back what you borrow. But remember, you will be expected to pay it back.
The money will be transferred to you within three working days and is supposed to last the full five weeks before your first payment.
You can also get an advance payment if your circumstances have changed and you will get a larger payment, but you aren’t getting the increased amount yet.
Paula said: “I knew about the advance payments but I was under the impression I would only be paying about £110 back each month.
“It’s a lot to take off somebody – for a family. It’s ridiculous.
“My stress levels have been through the roof. I’ve been really anxious. I have that feeling in my throat where I’m being smothered.
“That’s what we’re supposed to live on and it’s not enough.”
Find out more about what Universal Credit is and whether you might be eligible for a claim.
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