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Universal credit rollout sees almost 50 percent of claimants paid incorrectly, survey reveals

PUBLISHED: 12:00 28 November 2018

Tower Hamlets council commissioned the survey along with London mayor Sadiq Khan. Picture: Mike Brooke.

Tower Hamlets council commissioned the survey along with London mayor Sadiq Khan. Picture: Mike Brooke.

Mike Brooke

Fewer than half of people receiving the universal credit benefit have received the correct amount, a survey has shown.

The study carried out on behalf of London mayor, Sadiq Khan, and Tower Hamlets Council revealed that 46 per cent of 100 claimants surveyed weren’t paid correctly when their benefits switched to universal credit (UC).

Deputy mayor, Labour Cllr Rachel Blake, said: “This survey highlights the devastating experience of residents on universal credit.

“Delayed and inaccuate payments are making it harder for people to budget, forcing them to borrow money to cover costs.”

She called on the government to set up a social security system that supported everyone.

In total 28 per cent of households in Poplar and Limehouse as of June this year were claiming UC, which replaces six other benefits with a single, monthly payment.

The remainder were still claiming legacy benefits including child tax credit.

Audience Net’s survey of people who had made the switch to UC found that 63pc were finding it harder to budget with 52pc forced to wait up to six weeks for their first payments.

Figures from the department for work and pensions (DWP) – responsible for rolling out the benefit – show that 288 UC claimants in the borough were sanctioned in May, losing income after failing to meet certain benefit conditions.

The government has come under fire recently with critics describing UC’s rollout as chaotic.

Tower Hamlets mayor, John Biggs, said: “We know that universal credit is hitting residents hard.

“This survey goes to show the real strain it is putting residents under.”

A DWP spokesman said: “This survey of 100 claimants doesn’t match the broader experience of more than 13,000 people receiving universal credit in Tower Hamlets who are taking advantage of its flexibility and personalised support to find work.

“We have just announced a £4.5bn support package so people can earn £1,000 more before their credit payment begins to be reduced. We are providing an additional two weeks’ payments for people being moved from the old system.”

Only 100 people in Tower Hamlets were interviewed for the research – just 0.7pc of people receiving UC in the area, he added.

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