People are discovering how truly awful universal credit is now that 1m have been forced to apply
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In December 2019, UK unemployment fell to its lowest levels since 1975.

Now, in the wake of coronavirus, it’s likely to double.

Forecasters predict a rise from 3.9 per cent to a figure more like 8.5 per cent by June, thanks to the economic impact of the health crisis.

But people still need an income because capitalism demands the exchange of money for the basic essentials to live.

Which is why applications for Universal Credit – the centralised benefit system – have skyrocketed, the tune of about 800,000 more people.

The BBC reports there’s been nearly one million Universal Credit claims in the past two weeks alone.

The Department of Work and Pensions say that 950,000 applications had been granted between 16 March and the end of the month.

Normally, they would expect 100,000 claims in that period.

And the exposure of a large swathe of the population to the Universal Credit system has led many to discover just how flawed it is.

Brought in to replace existing benefit packages in 2018, Universal Credit has been plagued by criticism from the beginning.

Claimants have to endure five-week wait periods before receiving their first payments and the system has been accused of plunging people into poverty and homelessness as a result.

Meanwhile, payouts are meagre, despite a temporary Covid-19 induced increase that means those aged over 25 will now receive £409.89 every month.

And yet the average weekly earnings for full-time employees in the UK is £585, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Many said their allocated payments were just not enough.

The massive influx of claims has also caused people to discover the UC system is not set up to process thousands of people at one time.

Lengthy waits were reported en masse.

Some even gave up on the verifying their identity on the phone altogether (although not everyone has this option).

Meanwhile, some existing users of Universal Credit complained that they were still experiencing benefits sanctions for not being able to work, despite the reason being coronavirus.

Others spoke about how their first experience with universal credit was affecting them.

And then there were those who just couldn’t get through to make a claim at all.

There were plaintive cries for help.

The situation seems pretty clear: Universal Credit is buckling under the weight of demand.

The UK needs a social security system it can rely on – and quickly.

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