East Lothian Council

Negative impact of Universal Credit on East Lothian citizens is 'shocking'

Published Monday 2nd October 17

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New survey reveals troubling results

A new survey carried out by East Lothian Council’s Revenues and Welfare Support service shows the level of negative impact that Universal Credit is having on it recipients. Two hundred and nine people responded to the survey, which showed that only one quarter of this sample managed financially while waiting for their first Universal Credit payment. Waiting time for that first payment was around 6-8 weeks for 82% of respondents, with a further 18% having to hold on for longer than that. Two to three months without benefit income has an enormous impact on family income.

Fifty-three per cent had to get a loan from their families to tide them over; 28% had to get a benefit advance; 10% had to apply to the Scottish Welfare Fund, and 14% went to the Foodbank. After three months, only 36% felt that they were now coping with payments and 46% said that their financial situation had worsened and their debts increased. 

The main reasons for people claiming Universal Credit are:

  • Change in work – 25%
  • Stopping work – 22%
  • Change in household – 18%
  • Starting work – 10%
  • New home – 9%.

A further 33% gave other reasons, many of which had to do with ill health and sickness. Around a third of all respondents confessed to having debt problems.

East Lothian Council Deputy Leader Councillor Norman Hampshire says:

‘This research provides a shocking insight into the impact of Universal Credit on people in East Lothian. It shows that UC affects many people with ill health and disability and that almost half of all claimants need to be referred for money or debt advice.

‘East Lothian Council continues to work with its partners to mitigate the impact of Universal Credit on local people and at the same time continue to campaign for improvements and changes with the Scottish and Westminster Governments’.

Find out about help with Universal Credit 

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