TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC)-Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, told parliament on Monday that Universal Credit, the system which seeks to change how social benefits work, has been the main cause of the explosion in food bank use across the UK.
“It is absolutely clear that there were challenges with the initial rollout of Universal Credit –and the main issue that led to an increase in food bank use could have been the fact that people had difficulty accessing their money early enough,” said Rudd while answering questions in the House of Commons.
There have been numerous reports suggesting that benefit claimants across the UK have had difficulties registering on the Universal Credit program both because of technological complications and the fact that the government has been seeking to reduce the total number of claimants under the scheme.
Based on the new system, many old benefits are cut and people are compensated with advances until their application to receive a lump-sum monthly payment is approved. However, reports say many have become homeless or left with no means to live as a result of failure to receive the advances.
Rudd said government had made changes to the Universal Credit to make it easier for claimants to have their advances, saying her department was “committed to a strong safety net where people need it.”
It is the first time the government admits there has been a link between growing poverty in Britain and its austerity-orientated policies.
The United Nations said late last year that austerity programs that have been in place since the rise of the Conservative Party to power in 2010 had left more than a fifth of UK population, around 14 million, in poverty.
Experts believe around one million people are using food banks in the UK. Official estimates suggest the use of food banks in areas where Universal Credit is introduced has increased by more than a third.
Source: Press TV