Universal Credit has hardly been out of the news over the last few months. The new benefit was introduced in Uttlesford just over a year ago – since then we have helped over 250 people with related issues, mostly problems with the initial application process or delays, difficulty managing after a drop in income, especially if people have been given advances to cover the application process, and problems identifying entitlements to free school meals and prescriptions.
We are working closely with Uttlesford District Council and DWP to support people who are applying for or moving to Universal Credit and trying to make the process as easy as we can. We are also fortunate to have the support of a number of local charities including Saffron Walden United Charities, Great Dunmow Amalgamated Trusts and Sophie’s Fund who can help our clients if they are struggling to pay for for food, heating, prescriptions or other essentials.
Emergency grants from these and other local charities were up from £2,264.09 in 2016-17 to £4,058.93 in 2017-18 and we have seen our referrals to Uttlesford Foodbank almost double from 193 last year to 383 this year, so it is clear that moving to Universal Credit has had a noticeable impact on our clients. In the last month one of our advisers has seen three people in impossible situations – after taking out essential bills and starting to pay back the advance they were given to manage during the application process, each has less than £10 a week left for food.
To learn more about Universal Credit and its ongoing impact on Uttlesford residents you are welcome to attend our Annual General Meeting on 26th November at the Maltings in Great Dunmow. . If you are aware of a local trust that can support local people in financial hardship or would like to make an individual donation, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org