Still waiting? Don't just wait: Join the Campaign #5WeeksTooLong

STOP Sign - End the 5 Week WaitFood bank use has been steadily rising, and last year, the Trussell Trust food bank network gave out a record 1.6 million food parcels, a 19% increase on the year before. The key reasons why people needed a food bank this year were income (including from benefits) not covering the cost of living, benefit delays and benefit changes. We therefore know that issues with benefits are overwhelmingly driving the need for food banks.

Read on to hear Sophie's story and campaign to end the wait.

Increasingly, issues with one benefit in particular (Universal Credit) are driving food bank referrals. One big problem our food bank network has highlighted is that anyone who applies to Universal Credit is faced with a five week gap with no income coming in.

The government’s answer to the five week wait is to offer an Advance Payment (a loan on the first Universal Credit payment) to cover the gap. However this just plunges people into debt further down the line. The government decides the rate which these will be repaid (anything up to 30%) and so is acting in a way that the lending industry is not allowed to. These Advance Payments offer people the impossible choice of hardship now or hardship later.

 

End the 5 Week Wait: #5WeeksTooLong (# Five Weeks Too Long)Sophie*, a single mother, who has a physical disability, shared her experience of the five week wait with us:

“My husband left us over a month ago leaving our home with literally no income.

I’m down to one meal a day so that I can still feed my children and my rent is now late. I can’t afford my prescription and don’t know if I qualify for free prescriptions because I don’t know if my claim has been successful or not. So I’m in pain and exhausted.

I’ve taken out a Universal Credit advance of £800 but I don’t want to take any more as I don’t know if or how much Universal Credit I’ll get.

Five weeks with no income and no way to tell if or when any money will arrive is impossible.”

Despite receiving an Advance Payment, Sophie’s family still experienced severe hardship. She had the impossible choice of deciding whether to buy food or pay the rent. And in the end, she had to do both. Sophie got behind on her rent and dramatically reduced their family’s meals, to manage the five week wait.

Sophie’s story is one of many we’ve heard that show how government is failing the most vulnerable in society, and pushing people with disabilities into poverty, debt and hardship. Waiting for five weeks for the first payment is the government’s intended design, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The Government’s first priority must be to end the five week wait. It’s #5WeeksTooLong.

Communities and local churches have come together, providing a compassionate response to support those who have been pushed into hardship. But our shared belief in justice means that we have a collective responsibility to do more than this, and to campaign for change to ensure that everyone in society has enough to afford a decent standard of living.

 

Join us and help end the five week wait: https://action.trusselltrust.org/5weekstoolong

 

*All names have been changed

#5WeeksTooLong

 

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published this page in Articles 2019-07-11 13:37:25 +0100