When Universal Credit was first announced in 2010, its Conservative party creators hailed it as a flagship policy – a means of simplifying the benefits system and encouraging the long-term unemployed back into work.
As the name suggests, it was designed to roll six existing benefits together under one single banner.
The reality has proved to be far from simple.
As the national costs of implementing it have spiralled and the timeline for bringing everyone on to the system have been pushed further back, the problems have multiplied.
There have been plenty of reported instances of people having payments delayed, or outright refused for Kafkaesque reasons that are nigh-on impossible to fathom. And now the results of our investigation, published today, further highlight just how broken the Universal Credit system is.
People in receipt of Universal Credit are already being evicted for falling behind on their rent.
And it’s not just rent – items many of us would deem essentials are out of their grasp. When buying a child new clothes is labelled an ‘emergency’ something is desperately wrong.
This was supposed to move people out of the so-called welfare trap, but instead it appears only to exacerbate the problem – pushing these unfortunate souls further into debt without any realistic hope of escape.
It’s hard to believe that all of those who were previously capable to meet their rent are suddenly unable to do so because they can’t budget properly, as Fareham Borough Council leader, Cllr Sean Woodward claims.
There is a horrible feeling that this is only the tip of the iceberg, and if Universal Credit proceeds without fundamental change, it’s only going to to get a lot worse.