A man was shocked to be given just £7 in Universal Credit to get him through Christmas.
Richard Williams, 35, opened his online welfare entitlement ‘portal’ to find he had been allocated £7 to last until January – on top of a separate sum of 20p that went into his bank account.
He now has no idea how he will manage over the festive period – or keep a roof over his head as he is already in rent arrears.
Distraught Richard revealed he has had to rely on a freebie electricity ‘voucher’ to keep the lights on in his flat in Plymouth, Devon.
Richard has also had to turn to his severely ill mum for meals and feels ashamed about using a food bank.
He said: “I have got all of £7.20 and that has got to last me until January 11 because of their silly assessment period.”
The DWP confirmed Richard had been handed less than his usual allowance – because he had earned £800 in wages from a previous job.
Richard revealed he quit his role as a fire safety assessor for Wood Group at Devonport dockyard on November 24 this year after a workplace dispute.
He has struggled to find any work since – so reactivated an old Universal Credit claim to help him get through Christmas and New Year.
Richard qualified for monthly housing and allowance payments totalling £628.
But welfare assessment officials docked most of his pay – on the grounds he still had a source of income between November 5 and December 5 – meaning he only qualified for a mere £7.20 in December/January’s welfare pay-slip, equivalent to £1.80 a week.
Richard expects to finally receive his full money come January 11 – when Universal Credit is set to pay out again if he remains out of work.
But his rent arrears will have soared to £1,000 by then, he says, plunging him into financial misery.
And he’s frustrated his pleas for a Universal Credit ‘advance’ to get him through until the start of 2020 fell on deaf ears.
“I feel right – although I don’t want to be homeless,” Richard said.
“I need the people in charge of Universal Credit to really help me at the moment. I rang them and explained I needed an advance, and they said, ‘no, it’s up to the system’ (what money you get).
“I said, ‘well, who controls your system? Who controls your computer? They wouldn’t give me a proper answer. It’s disgusting – it’s really bad.”
Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work.
It replaces some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now:
Richard believes the welfare system – introduced by the Tories in a streamlined overhaul of the historic entitlement structure – is not working and letting a lot of people down.
The DWP said it wrote off £516.30 of Richard’s £800 dockyard wage in November/December when assessing how much Universal Credit he would then be entitled to.
But he said there’s no consideration for the fact people live month by month and don’t have spare income to sort out them out later on.
“When Brexit goes through, the Government really needs to deal with Universal Credit,” Richard added.
“I know ex-servicemen who can’t work and who are on the streets and can’t gain access to money.”
Talking about how the situation will affect his Christmas, Richard said: “In terms of Christmas Day – I don’t know. I may go up to mums and keep her company. But other than that, I’m not sure.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “Universal Credit, like every other means tested benefit takes all income into account when calculating entitlement.
“For his last benefit payment, Mr Williams received over £800 in wages meaning he was entitled to a reduced amount.”