A Doncaster family have told how they are £10,000 in debt and have had to sell off cars, furniture and jewellery because of Universal Credit problems.
Mum of one Kirsty Snape and husband Dale have taken out a string of payday loans and have fallen behind on rent and bills while they waited for their first payment of the controversial Government credit.
The couple, who receive around £1,000 a month in Universal Credit, say its not enough to make ends meet and they have pawned household items to pay for rent, bills and food.
The couple, who live in Doncaster and have a one-year-old daughter Lydia, have told The Sun of their worries.
“It’s making people vulnerable, knowing they have to wait a certain number of weeks to get a payment," she said.
"People will turn to drugs, prostitution, loan sharks."
Because Dale works variable hours as a HGV driver, the family never know how much benefit they'll receive until a few days before and they first started claiming when they had to move house.
"It made us feel so humiliated, worthless," said Kirsty. “Having worked so hard for everything only then to lose it because of Universal Credit, it’s very damaging to a human being.
"He’s had to sell special stuff which has a huge sentimental value. It’s awful, but he has to feed his daughter. It’s those kinds of sacrifices we’re having to make."
She was given a £500 advance to tide her over during the six week wait for her first Universal Credit payment, but this wasn't enough to cover her bills and the couple took out seven pay day loans to meet costs.
The pair sold their possessions – two cars and furniture – and also pawned a necklace belonging to Dale’s late father for just £80.
The controversial credit often takes five weeks to be paid – and in the meantime, those claiming are left struggling.
She said she was unable to afford presents for their daughter at Christmas and said they would be lucky to have heating and light on Christmas Day.
“If I don’t have the money for gas and electric, I don’t top it up," she said "It’s more important to have a meal for my daughter.”
What is universal credit?
Universal credit is a benefit for working-age people, replacing six benefits and merging them into one payment:
income-based jobseeker's allowance
income-related employment and support allowance
child tax credit
working tax credit
It was designed to make claiming benefits simpler, and is being introduced in stages across the UK.