With the full rollout of universal credit delayed yet again thanks to public backlash, figures reveal that thousands of people in Birmingham were put on the controversial benefits system in September.
The scheme was first introduced in 2013, and was intended to replace six “legacy” benefits, including unemployment benefit, tax credits and housing benefit..
It was supposed to be implemented across the UK by 2017, but management failures, IT blunders and design faults mean it has already fallen at least five years behind schedule.
On top of that, there have been a wealth of problems caused by the new single benefit.
As well as leaving claimants with nothing to live on during the transition period - which takes longer than a month - many are then finding they are then worse off than they were on legacy benefits.
Meanwhile, flaws in the system put poorer claimants especially at heightened risk of hunger, debt and rent arrears, ill-health and homelessness.
In fact, the Trussell Trust - the UK’s largest food bank network - have reported that food bank referral rates in areas where the full universal credit rollout has taken place are more than twice as high as the national average.
Following ongoing criticism, the government has bowed to mounting pressure to postpone the next stage of universal credit, and the system is now not expected to be fully operational until December 2023.
Despite this, government data has revealed that the benefit continues to be rolled out to thousands of people in our city.
As of September this year, 45,733 people in Birmingham were claiming Universal Credit - up from 41,658 just a month earlier.
It means one in every 25 people living in our city are now on the scheme - a rate that’s more than twice as high as the national average.
Across Great Britain, some 1.2 million people are now on the scheme - up from 1.1 million in August, and working out as one in every 52 people.