UNIVERSAL STRUGGLE Disabled man given just 1p Universal Credit to live on over Christmas
Neil Wright, 50, normally receives £284 a month from the Government because his acute arthritis has left him unable to work
A DISABLED man was left with less than £1 to live on over Christmas after receiving a Universal Credit payment of just 1p.
Neil Wright, 50, who suffers from arthritis, usually receives £284-a-month from the Government to help with living costs but he has no idea why his payment turned into a bank deposit of just a penny.
But he did get £163.98 in Employment Support Allowance (EESA), a disability benefit he is not supposed to be receiving any more, after he was shifted into the catch-all UC system.
His last communication from the Department for Work and Pensions said he would receive nothing on December 14, 2018, but 1p then went into his bank.
“It’s all confusing,” he said. “I can’t make head nor tail of it. I got my bank statement and checked it and there’s 1p of UC on it. They’ve offered me 1p to live on.”
But, as baffled as he may be, that’s not his biggest problem. The 1p payment went in on December 14, 2018, and he’s not due another until January 14, 2019.
That means, he says, he has less than a pound to buy food with.
“I’ve got 25p in my pocket and about 52p in the bank,” he said.
“I had some savings but used them to buy Christmas presents,” he explained.
Mr Wright, from Stoke, said he has been using “savings” to live on since receiving his last UC payment of £284 on November 14, and then £163.98 in EESA on November 27, 2018.
Even if that payment was deducted from his UC benefit, he still thinks he’s out of pocket.
Mr Wright said he has sought an explanation from the Jobcentre in St Levan Road, but said he was told he had to wait until receiving the next UC payment.
Now the divorced father of six grown-up children, said he is even considering getting a job, even though he is disabled and hasn’t been able to work for 12 years.
“I should not be at work,” he said. “But I’d rather be at work than stuck on UC.”
Mr Wright worked for years as a taxi driver before developing acute arthritis in his lower back, neck and shoulders. He also suffers from asthma and is on antidepressant drugs.
Plymouth Live has contacted the DWP. A spokesman said: ““Universal Credit is a force for good in the vast majority of cases and is helping people get into work faster and stay in work longer. We have removed the seven waiting days and have made 100 per cent advance payments available from day one.”
Mr Wright’s tribulations are not the first time Plymouth Live has written about UC problems. Among other stories recently, we have revealed how:
-Annette Hodges resorted to begging on the streets of Plymouth so she could buy her baby daughter a £12 Christmas tree.
-A 46-year-old Southway man said he’d resorted to selling his belongings to ensure his 10-year-old child could get a present from Santa.
-Plymouth mum Leanne Barnett said she was forced to sell her clothes to stop her from starving whilst on UC.
UC is the Government’s new welfare policy that replaces six forms of benefit now rolled into one monthly payment.
It sounds straight forward, and supporters say it’s much better than the old benefits arrangement as it actually encourages people to get back into work after a prolonged period of sickness and gives people with disability new hope.
So what do you think?
Tell us in the comments.