Universal credit doesn’t need a PR campaign (Coming soon: the great universal credit deception, 15 May). Instead of wasting time and resources on spin, the Department for Work and Pensions should tackle the reasons why so many of the people who most need its help are being forced to food banks after moving on to the new benefit.
Food banks gave out 1.6m parcels last year – and our data shows almost half of referrals made due to a delay in benefits being paid were linked to universal credit. This isn’t right. Our benefits system should be anchoring people from poverty, not pushing them to a food bank.
We know what levers we need to pull if we want to keep people afloat instead of pulling them under. We also know that the five-week wait for a first payment is one of the biggest issues people face when moving on to universal credit. This wait is five weeks too long – ending it must be the government’s first priority. Not launching an ad campaign.
Director of policy and research, The Trussell Trust
• It is a perverse government that ignores the health and moral arguments for a benefit system that meets the minimum human needs for shelter, food, fuel, clothes, transport and other necessities by embarking on a publicity campaign praising non-existent virtues of the present benefit system. The robust evidence of the system’s structural violence and damage to people’s health exists throughout universities and in the published experience of impoverished citizens. Evidence of serial governmental abuses of power stacks the shelves of government departments and crowds a struggling NHS with patients. A decent social security system, built on moral principles, would allow people to flourish. It must reverse the current structural violence and social murder. The health and wellbeing of every UK citizen in or out of work must now become a national priority.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
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