The Socialist 17 July 2019 |
Join the Socialist
| Audio | PDF | ebook
Fraudsters thrive and claimants suffer in despicable Universal Credit scam
Benefits claimants are under the cosh, photo JJ Ellison/CC (Click to enlarge)
Jeremy Davidson, Hull Socialist Party
Thousands of people on Universal Credit have been left up to £1,500 worse off following a criminal scam where fraudsters obtain personal details of vulnerable claimants.
Often impersonating staff for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), these criminals steal information from unsuspecting victims in need of financial support and create fake applications on their behalf.
The scammers apply for and receive a slice of the advanced loan, given to claimants as a monetary buffer to get them through the mini- mum five-week waiting period before their first payment.
Outrageously, reports say that when the DWP is informed of the fraudulent claim, the claimants are stopped from returning to their legacy benefits, despite being worse off on the new Universal Credit system. They don't even have any knowledge that a claim has been made on their behalf!
The government consistently stated that Universal Credit would reduce benefit fraud. But the reality is a sharp rise in fraudulent activity, leaving benefit claimants worse off.
These alarming revelations are yet more evidence that the Universal Credit system is not fit for purpose, just like the shambolic, incompetent, pro-austerity Tory government. Universal Credit was never designed to provide for and support the most vulnerable in our society. Rather, it is an attempt by the Tories to save money on welfare spending. A close friend of mine, who recently qualified as a teacher, had the misfortune of falling seriously ill. She's a single mother, so she received £107 a week in working and child tax credits to help make ends meet.
She applied for Universal Credit due to her disability. But these payments were immediately stopped, even though she's entitled to them
She got an advanced loan of £950 before her Universal Credit payments begin in September. Not only is she receiving less financial aid, but when Universal Credit payments start, she will have to pay back £78 a month, for a year, to cover the loan!
The Tories' system leaves vulnerable people like my friend poorer, but also demands they pay back the money they were entitled to in the first place! This despicable practice has to end now.
The demand to replace Universal Credit with wages and benefits that people can genuinely live on must be accompanied by a fight for a general election to end this Tory government. These calls have to resonate from the organised trade union movement potentially the most powerful force in society, and many union members are on Universal Credit themselves.
This call must come from Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party too. The working class has suffered severely over nine years of Tory austerity. The Tories and Universal Credit must go.