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Thanks to Deirdre O'Neill, Chair, Unite Community Halifax and Calder Valley branch for this info

Unite seeks support for Day of Action against Universal Credit

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

When: 9.45-11.30, Thursday 24 May 2018 
Where: Outside Job Centre, Crossfield House, St James Rd, Halifax

Unite says that Universal Credit causing misery and hardship for families in Yorkshire. 

As part of a National Day of Action to raise awareness of the hardships caused by Universal Credit, Unite Community is asking for people in Hebden Bridge and the Calder Valley and Halifax to join them in leafleting in Halifax tomorrow (24th May) at 9.45-11.30, outside the Job Centre, Crossfield House, St James Rd, Halifax HX1 1YS.

This is part of wider regional action by members and campaigners who will be holding street stalls or leafleting across towns and cities in Yorkshire on Thursday 24 May to help raise awareness of who will be affected by Universal Credit.

Thousands of families in Yorkshire and Humber claiming the Government's new all-in-one benefit, Universal Credit are being plunged into misery and hardship. Unite is calling on the government to stop the role out of Universal Credit before even more families are forced into poverty.

As well as the long waits for the benefit there are other problems with Universal credit such as the complex on-line-only application process and the housing benefit element not being paid direct to landlords causing rent arrears and in some cases eviction. 

The level of benefit sanctions for people claiming Universal Credit is much higher than for other benefits due to reasons such as the difficulties people have in dealing with the complexity of the system and that many people claiming this on-line benefit don't have access to the internet at home thereby missing job centre appointments and instructions they don't hear about in time. 

In areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out food-banks have seen a 50 per cent increase in use compared with 13 per cent increase in areas with the old legacy benefits. Left behind, a report into the impact of Universal Credit by The Tussle Trust, has found that 92 per cent of people claiming the all-in one benefit said that it doesn't cover their full cost of living, and 57 per cent have experienced mental or physical health problems.

John Coan
, Unite Community coordinator for Yorkshire says, "Despite knowing that Universal Credit causes serious problems for those claiming it the government is ploughing ahead regardless while claimants are descending further into debt, relying on food banks and getting into rent arrears and in many cases are being evicted from their homes. Universal Credit is not fit for purpose and should be stopped.

"In order to claim Universal Credit claimants need an internet connection which many simply can't afford.

"Unite is demanding a cut in the long waits to receive money, for people to be able to apply in job centres, not just online, better help for people when the system fails, landlords to be paid directly to avoid people getting into rent arrears and losing their homes, an end to benefit sanctions for people in and out of work."

In Yorkshire and Humber there are currently 39,875 households receiving Universal Credit and this figure is expected to reach 581,010 once the government have finished rolling it out fully by March 2022.

Over one million low paid part-time workers will also be affected by Universal Credit and for the first time ever people in work could face being sanctioned (having their benefits stopped) if they don't prove to the job centre that they're searching for better paid work or more hours.

Community members will be handing out leaflets with information and getting people to sign a petition to call on the government to stop the roll out of Universal Credit. 

The new benefit, which is replacing six benefits –- child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance and working tax credit – will affect seven million UK households.