“I’m left with £33 a month to buy food and toiletries.” – Ali’s Universal Credit Story
I was contacted by Ali as she wished to share her story about how Universal Credit has affected her. I asked her to type it out. So here it is, unedited and in full with her permission.
Hello, and thank you for taking the time to read about my account of being a Universal Credit claimant.
I think like many others, I had an idolised view of life on benefits when I was working.Was I the mug putting in 40 hours a week and struggling to make ends meet while they got to have a lie in and got things paid for them?
This view changed rapidly when one day I stood up to my boss and his inappropriate behaviour. I soon found myself in the jobcentre being told all about this wonderful life changing benefit called universal credit I was applying for and how it consolidated housing and benefit into one easy payment.
Little did I know, that by life changing, they meant I would soon end up begging family and friends for help and being forced to leave my home.
Initially they tell you that you’ll have to wait 5 weeks for your first payment, but you can have a advance (loan) in the meantime. So of course I accepted the advance and thought it would be plain sailing.
It begins to go wrong
After a couple of weeks I was asked to go in with my tenancy agreement, they then lost this 3 times, delaying any housing payments.
I was then told I was being sanctioned, why? Well apparently my boss offering me money to sleep with him isn’t a valid reason to leave my job.
Because of this, despite my claim starting in October I received no payments until mid January. I had to really heavily on my family and friends for food and money for electric to stay warm.
My first three payments did not include any housing money so I was forced into arrears and eventually eviction.
With a huge help from my mum, as social housing and council told me I was not a priority, I found a new flat. It’s in a new town where I know no one, but I’m thankful I have a roof over my head.
My work coach said not to worry about a thing, I’d get my rent paid and grants for furniture.
Three months later I’ve received none of these but I’m still fighting heavily for them.
Left with virtually nothing
So, I have a monthly income of £518, sounds great right? It’s not. My bills are as follows:
- Rent – £435
- Gas and electric – £30
- Phone – £29
That leaves me with, £33 a month to buy food and toiletries.
The reality of this has meant going days without a shower, a hot meal or any meal for that matter.Sitting in public places like library’s just to get warm.
Stealing toilet roll from pubs and public toilets, almost stealing a burger straight from a mans hand because I hadn’t eaten for six days.
Struggling to carry on
I sit in an empty flat with only the walls to stare at, not even so much as a radio for company because I’ve had to sell virtually everything I own.
Probably the worst thing has been attending job interviews when I haven’t been able to wash my hair or brush my teeth, would you hire that person?
All I want to do is live day to day life normally, be able to make myself a cup of tea or a sandwich without having to weigh up how long I need that bread and milk to last.
I considered drastic measures
There have been many days where I have sat and weighed up the options between somehow getting myself put in jail, because then I’d at least be warm and fed or just ending it all completely.
It’s extremely hard to keep going when everywhere you turn for help you’re told you’re not a priority.
If you feel low at any point you can contact Samaritans for confidential advice and support on 116 123 24 hours a day.
I know I’m only one of many in this situation and many are worse off than me. I am just one of the many in destitution across the UK.
All I ask of you is not to be so quick to judge someone on benefits, and please support Alex’s foodbank challenge, he is doing incredible work to help get these stocked up and they save lives!
Everyone deserves to be able to eat.
Finally may I say, thank you for reading my article, my local MP Pete Wishart is helping me deal with this, so hopefully it will be resolved soon.
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It is even worse for under 25’s apparently they can buy food cheaper? pay cheaper bills? As UNIVERSAL CREDIT RULE IS TO PAY A LOT LESS TO FAMILIES WITH SMALL CHILDREN/BABIES LOTS LESS IF THE MUMMY AND DADDY ARE UNDER 25??? THIS IS SO WRONG THEY CAN’T HAVE CHEAPER COST OF GETTING TO WORK! OR CHEAPER BILLS!???
I hate that rule so much it’s ridiculous.
I sincerely hope that Pete Wishart lets Mrs May and that vile Esther McVey read your story ,they have the cheek to stand in Westminster with a sneer on their faces saying the UC is working ,I hope Pete Wishart gets things sorted for you
something needs to be done in parliment about this universal credit i had bad exp today luckily i start full time job on monday thank god after searching 24/7 for work its getting so hard now as so many agencys are giving people false hope promising jobs if they sit and do courses for a week which the government pay these agencys when you have done this you never hear nothing back so went to jobcentre today to let them know lady i saw was nasty not helpful at all she closed my uc claim there and then when i told her its monthly pay and i wont have anything to live on till i get paid i have no food only thing she gave me was money to get a bus pass its disgusting how they treat people no wonder people are comitting suicide or leading to depression or end up homeless no one can survive on this benefit believe me i know im on my own with morgage i wasnt even get any help with that but if i had a private landlord they would have helped towards my rent struggled realy bad im just glad i never have to step foot in there ever again after today
I am a 63 year old lady who has suffered from cancer and the horrendous side effects of highdose chemotherapy, due to this i now suffer from oestoporosis and other health isses, in March this year i failed a work capability assesment and have been forced to sign on to universal credit and live off job seekers , my doctor has been giving me sick /fit notes as im recovering from breast surgery and anxiety, but now they will no longer accept them and i am having to apply for jobs that i know i am not capable of doing and i am still awaiting more surgery , its beyond belief if it wasnt for my family i would not survive, i can totally understand how some people feel they want to end it all
just admit it universal credit doesn’t work and needs scrapping altogether. its a desperate attempt to get people into work and should be abolished before this goes any further. stick with health assessments and just leave people alone good day Mr Scott.
i have crohns disease and i didnt ask to be ill.