"Universal Credit? It needs slamming" one claimant said as she took leaflets from protesters outside Eccles Job Centre this morning. She has a young daughter, is not in a relationship but had someone else, from a different address, claim Universal Credit as her 'partner'. She hadn't given permission, there were no proper checks from the Job Centre...and she wasn't paid any benefits for three weeks.
If someone is in a relationship only one person claims Universal Credit, which is yet another major criticism of the new benefit. This woman, who is on JSA not Universal Credit, only found out that someone else had been claiming when her landlord, City West, phoned up to see why the rent hadn't been paid. The Job Centre told her it was a police matter and wouldn't discuss it – but did point her and her child to the foodbank.
"I had nothing for three weeks" she told the Salford Star "All I had was my mum's help and the money I'd been paid three weeks ago which just had to last. I cannot believe that someone from a different address had been able to claim without my knowledge.
"I think they're messing people around so you're going to take any job you can to get away from it all, even if that's cleaning the toilets out in the Gateway or whatever" she added.
Meanwhile, campaigners who had been picketing Eccles Job Centre told how people were too frightened on the way in to even stop to sign a petition and take a leaflet, in case they were one minute late for their appointment and were sanctioned...
"People were terrified of being sanctioned because they would have no money for Christmas" said Alec McFadden, manager at Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre "This is by far the worst benefit that's been brought in, and the reality is that all is does is create poverty and fear, and make people look for jobs that don't exist.
"The Government has compromised; it's now, you've only got to starve for five weeks instead of starving for six weeks" he added "Universal Credit is a complete disaster and there's going to be a lot of men, women and children having a miserable Christmas because of this Tory Government. Like Ken Loach says, it's time we took to the streets so we're demonstrating here..."
Speaking on the steps of Eccles Job Centre, Councillor Barbara Bentham, who had joined the protest, said "Universal Credit is an evil benefit. I don't think it's ever going to be fixed, and something needs to be done about this. I've been having the same arguments since 2014 about how welfare reforms are harming vulnerable people and so we need to change it now."
And Paul Kelly, President of Salford Trades Council added "The reason we're here today is the deliberate impoverishment of people, not just in the run up to Christmas but generally. The imposition of Universal Credit is a disaster for many working people as well as those who are unemployed. It's a disgrace. The benefit system is supposedly to help people, but this is just punishment and iniquity which must be stopped."
For a full background on the Universal Credit disaster see previous Salford Star articles click here and click here
See also: Disgrace of 10,000 Salford Children Living In Benefit Claim Households – click here