Citizens Advice North Tyneside is warning that universal credit is putting people’s financial security at risk, as they wait six weeks or more for their first payment.
The charity is calling for the Government to fix the temporary ‘live service’ universal credit.
From February 2018, once the full service arrives, it will mean anyone who would previously have claimed one of the old benefits, such as tax credits or housing benefit, must apply for universal credit.
Mark Almond, director of Citizens Advice North Tyneside, said: “The principles behind universal credit are sound, but a mix of flaws in how the benefit was designed and problems with how it is being delivered is leaving many people’s finances in tatters.
“We’re already helping many people across North Tyneside who are having problems with universal credit, and we are concerned this will rise significantly. By 2022, it will affect thousands of households across the area.”
In its report, Citizens Advice states that the requirement to wait for six weeks to receive any payment means people face serious financial insecurity.
It also identifies a range of administrative issues, such as problems with the online system, which can make the initial six-week wait even longer.
Mr Almond added: “If the government doesn’t fix significant problems with Universal Credit then many families across North Tyneside may be put at financial risk, which can in turn put huge pressure on other local services such as health, housing and social care. We are also working in partnership with North Tyneside Council to support residents who are affected by the Welfare Reform changes including Universal Credit.
“If anyone does run into problems with Universal Credit, don’t hesitate to contact Citizens Advice North Tyneside for help.”