A mother of three children has been left with just £10 for Christmas after her Universal Credit money was not paid.
Paulette Reid from London was expecting to receive her money today but nothing was paid into her account. When she telephoned the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) she was told that the money should be paid on Christmas Eve.
Reid was then stunned to be told to go to a local food bank if the money did not arrive. She has just £10 left in her bank account and now fears she and her three children could be spending Christmas without electricity or food.
“At this point I don’t actually know what I’m going to do. If I don’t get anything I won’t even have money so that I can travel to a family member’s house,” she said.
“I will have to spend Christmas at home possibly with no electricity. It really is at that point because I was really relying on that money today, I need to pay the electricity, there’s no food in the fridge.
“I’ve done no Christmas shopping either – it’s not like I’m ok until that point.”
Reid has recently found a job in customer services after months of unemployment. However, because she only started work on 4th December, she will not receive her wage until the end of December.
“I went in to my local DWP to say to them ‘look I’m working’ and I’m struggling because I’ve got childcare fees to pay, I’ve got to get to work everyday and I don’t have anything right now so I can pay my childcare fees in advance because I have to do that,” she said.
Reid’s youngest child is six and she has two adult children. Last week she was given £90 to cover childcare, but nothing else.
She added: “Nothing for travel, nothing for food, nothing to help support me stay in work in general.”
She was told instead that she would receive a full payment on 21st December because payments were being early due to the Christmas holiday period.
She said:”I thought ‘ok that’s not too bad’,” but I woke up this morning and there was nothing.
“I called the 0800 number and was told ‘if you were due to be paid on Christmas Day normally then you won’t get anything until Christmas Eve if you’re financially stuck and you find Christmas Eve arrives and you haven’t received any money then you’re welcome to visit one of your local foodbanks for support’.”
However, that was also the money she had planned to spend on her family for Christmas.
“That was also me getting presents for my little one, being able to contribute towards Christmas dinner,” she said.
She added: “The rent is due on Christmas Day so they will either take it before or after so if they take it this weekend that’s me failing on my rent.”
In utter despair, Reid called her local MP Rupa Huq who has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, raising her case.
Reid made a claim for Universal Credit in March after being made redundant.
She said of the system: “I’m shocked by the way that it’s run, I can see why people are in debt, why they’re suicidal, why they’re depressed. It isn’t a system that is set up to help people get back to work.”
The MP for Ealing and Acton tweeted a photograph of the letter saying: “Last weekday before Christmas/ first day of recess.
“Office has just received a call from a mum of two in tears as payment not come through yet and has £10 to her name for festive season.”
A DWP spokesman said: “Same day advances worth up to 100% of a Universal Credit award are available on day one, so no one should be without money.”
Perhaps it’s time the Department spent time ensuring that people actually get the advances when they are badly let down.
No matter how many time this line is repeated by government ministers and the DWP, it’s meaningless unless it actually happens.
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