The rolling out of Universal Credit in many areas of London has brought visitors to the centre seeking help to understand it, manage it and deal with the problems that occur during the long waiting period for the first payment.
Many of our visitors are using a second language, do not have their own computers and are not IT literate. Others who have managed their benefits well, before they were transferred to Universal Credit, experience anxiety and stress, fearing their Housing Benefit is not being paid to their landlord during the waiting period and think they could be evicted from their homes or are accumulating rent arrears. Those with families sometimes find it difficult to feed their children and have to resort to going to the Food Bank, or having to ask friends also on low incomes for a loan. Yes it is possible to apply for an advanced payment, but this deducted from their first regular payment. Adjustment to receiving only a monthly payment and budgeting till the next one can be difficult for some of our visitors, when they previously had payments coming in to their accounts at different times, enabling them to meet their living costs till the next payment. Just last week a visitor came for help because in addition to experiencing many of the above problems she had also been affected by the Benefit Cap.