The government has been warned by councils, charities and now even its own backbenchers that universal credit is a social policy disaster. But how does it feel to be on the receiving end of this controversial benefits overhaul?
In the video, visually impaired council tenant Jo King, who lives on Newcastle’s Newbiggin Hall Estate, talks about dealing with delays and miscalculations ever since she was moved on to universal credit over a year ago. She explains how she has twice been left without any benefits at all. In order to survive, she was forced to stop paying her carer and request emergency food parcels.
Her rent, which under a special arrangement is supposed to go direct to management organisation Your Homes Newcastle, has been consistently miscalculated, leaving her anxious and fielding regular calls from her rent officer.
Note what this complain is. Not that the total amount of money on offer is meager or whatever, but that the State is simply incompetent at caclulating what the amount should be and then providing it.
As absolutely anyone who has ever been caught up in the welfare system knows this is not something unique to universal credit. Some to all of the various different payments can and will be screwed up at some time. The universal part here is just proving that it gets worse when there are many moving parts feeding into the one payment.
Now consider what the general political demand is these days. That government should have ever more influence over our lives, take care of ever more economic decisions for us. Indeed, it’s the very people highlighting the general organisational incompetence here who keep making that demand.
Something of a logical problem, no?