‘I’m receiving less now than what I was receiving in hardship, which is total madness’ – Mhari, 37, Ayrshire
I waited seven weeks for my first payment, in which time I had to use a food bank to eat. No money was backdated and I only received four weeks’ money, putting me in arrears by three. I had to call my energy supplier as I had no money for electricity and gas, they were excellent and gave me a code to apply credit to pre-payment meters. My broadband was cut off, costing me a reconnection fee. I need to be online to carry out my claimant commitment of 35 hours per week job search.
With all this going on I requested an alternative payment arrangement (APA) to be set up to pay rent straight to my landlord and the adviser told me it would be applied. I then received £250 and thought this was mine (with deductions and rent having gone straight to my landlord) only to receive a call from them asking why my rent hadn’t been paid.
I was then told the £250 was issued in error (I now have to pay it back). It turns out the landlord has to apply for the APA directly and it will only be considered if in arrears – so that was another month’s rent unpaid. In my opinion the advisers have not been properly trained. I genuinely feel I know more about how the system works than most of them through speaking to others [in my situation] on an excellent support group for UC on Facebook.
The wait for first payments is putting everyone in debt – with sanctions and repayments I’m now receiving less than I was on hardship, it’s total madness. I am just about existing. If I had two doors in front marked life and death I would walk through the death door in a heartbeat.