A SINGLE mum who was forced to payday loans to fund childcare while struggling on Universal Credit is taking the DWP to court.
Nichola Salvato, 38, is demanding the Government step up to make childcare work on the new system, after she went into more than £1000 in debt trying to take on a new job.
At the moment Brits on the new six-in-one benefits system can get up to 85 per cent of their costs back, but they have to pay the costs upfront.
The Sun is arguing as part of our Make Universal Credit Work campaign for help for those costs to be paid upfront.
Nichola, who lives in Brighton with her ten-year-old daughter, Sofia, says the system discriminates against women – and it goes against the principle of trying to help people back into work.
She told The Sun Online: “It was incredibly stressful – I was forced to borrow from my family, reduce my hours and take out several loans over a period of months.
“Being a single parent is already quite a challenge, but to add into the mix poverty, loans, interest and all of that, makes it untenable.
“I was completely on my own, I panicked. I suddenly had to find a month’s money.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
How can you justify paying childcare costs upfront for someone earning £200,000 in advance, but not someone who is on £30,000?
Single mum Nichola
Nichola, who works for a charity and used to be a benefits adviser, wasn’t eligible for the Flexible Support Fund or a budgeting loan to help with the costs.
She added: “I looked at every opportunity for some help, but I don’t have a wealthy family, or someone in the area to look after my child.”
Nichola says the current system unfairly penalises lower earners, when other childcare systems don’t require Brits to fork up upfront.
And like many working mums, over the school holidays she has to folk out thousands of pounds extra upfront too.
“It’s women who are struggling the most here, 90 per cent of single-parent families are women,” she added.
“I dread to think what it’s like for people on minimum wage, how they can afford it.
“How can you justify paying childcare costs upfront for someone earning £200,000 in advance, but not someone who is on £30,000?
“It’s so frustrating, so detrimental, to individuals’ lives, and potentially hundreds of thousands of lives.”
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work
UNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.
One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the government to:
- Get paid faster: The Government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7 million from being pushed into debt.
- Keep more of what you earn:The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
- Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email UniversalCredit@the-sun.co.uk to share your story.
Luckily her new job allowed her to cut her hours and work from home to make the situation work for her.
But she hopes the DWP will shake-up the system for it to help others in future get back into work.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on an ongoing case.”