The House of Commons work and pensions committee says benefit delays put people at risk of hunger and losing their home. The committee said, advisory organisations such as Shelter and Citizens Advice reported that benefit underpayments left some individuals vulnerable and facing difficult decisions over whether to pay their rent or provide essentials such as food, gas and electricity for their household. Others found that individuals could become reliant on food banks as a result of underpaid benefits. It also raised concerns that some people will have to wait up to six weeks to receive their first benefit cheque under universal credit, the regime that comes into force over the next six years and which rolls six benefits into one monthly payment.
Emily Thornberry, Labour’s shadow employment minister, saidthe report showed a failure of the UK’s social safety net that was a “national disgrace”. She said: “This week, thousands of families will be turning to food banks for their Christmas lunches. This isn’t happening just because people are having their benefits cut, significant as that is. All too often it’s because they aren’t even getting the support that they’re entitled to in the first place.”
The Department for Work and Pensions released an independent evaluation of the bedroom tax, which found that social housing tenants were reporting having to cut back on food as a result of the policy.