The UK Government has been forced to reveal that it doesn’t know what the often-devastating five-week wait for Universal Credit does to people trapped in poverty.
In response to a Freedom of Information request by Glasgow-based charity the Poverty Alliance, the government was asked for any data collected on how the five-week wait affected poverty and food insecurity – and the DWP said it does not hold any such information.
Campaigners have long called for the five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment to be scrapped, with thousands pushed further into arrears and often forced to choose between feeding their families and heating their homes as a result.
Poverty Alliance director Peter Kelly said it is “astonishing” that the DWP has not assessed the extent of the damage done by the policy which does well-documented damage to families in need.
Kelly said: “The five-week wait is driving destitution and distress. We hear time and time again that the policy is pushing some people into rent arrears while others are going hungry to avoid getting into debt.
“It is astonishing that almost a year after then Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd admitted that delays in accessing Universal Credit could have been responsible for rising foodbank use that the UK Government is still not assessing the impact of the wait on the staggering levels of poverty in this country.