Aylesbury lady struggling to survive on Universal Credit

Miss Baker who cannot work because of acute medical conditions, has been left with just 66 to live on every month after she pays her rent.
Miss Baker who cannot work because of acute medical conditions, has been left with just 66 to live on every month after she pays her rent.

Jacqueline Baker who cannot work because of acute medical conditions, has been left with just £66 to live on every month after she pays her rent.

Ms Baker, who lives in Southcourt has been left devastated by cuts to her monthly benefits.

She suffers from acute thyroid problems, and cannot work.

She was previously receiving benefits under jobseekers allowance and ESA allowance, which totalled £700 per month.

The ESA benefit provides financial support for those unable to work. It’s gradually being replaced by Universal Credit, the online-only system combining six working-age benefits into one monthly payment.

This has now been slashed to £500 per month, with no reasons given as to why.

Jaqueline rents her accommodation, which costs her roughly £434 a month.

This leaves her with just £66 to pay for food, gas, electric and water.

She said: “The roll out of Universal Credit is having awful effects on people’s lives.

“Under the new changes, I can barely afford food never mind paying the electricity and gas bills.

“Once I pay my rent, I have barely anything to survive on. I’ve seen people across the country suffering from this cruel Universal Credit system. It’s driving people into depression and in some cases, a life of crime - just to survive.

“How can anybody manage on £66 a month? I am running out of options.”

Jaqueline has lived in Aylesbury all of her life. Her boyfriend, too has been on the wrong end of Universal Credit.

He missed a job interview two weeks ago because of a recurring health problem, and has now been sanctioned and will not receive any benefits for three months.

Jaqueline says: “The bad news just keeps on coming. It’s so cruel to sanction someone for three months, especially when they are struggling with long term conditions.

“What kind of society have we become where people are penalised for being too unwell to work?”

Universal Credit was the biggest change in the welfare system for a generation.

But research by UK charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that almost 11 million people will be worse off when they move across to Universal Credit from their old benefits, some by nearly £5,000 a year.

Universal Credit is for people of working age (over 18 but under state pension age) who are on a low income or out of work.

In July this year, then work and pensions minister Amber Rudd addressed the House of Commons, and outlined details of the pilot for the next stage of managed migration.

She said: “This managed migration involves moving claimants still on legacy benefits who have not had a change in circumstances across to UC. This pilot will give colleagues and claimants confidence in the Department’s approach to this transition before we return to the House to report on progress and seek permission to extend managed migration”.

But shadow work and pensions minister, Margaret Greenwood said: “Universal Credit was meant to simplify the social security system. In fact it is deeply flawed and has caused real hardship for so many people across our country”.

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