Universal Credit survey


A new survey has revealed that large debts and arrears are building up amongst Universal Credit claimants.

The Department for Work and Pensions has conducted a survey of over 1,400 Universal Credit recipients.

One of the key findings shows that 65% of claimants in arrears only fell into these after they started claiming Universal Credit.

Claimants have told us that the large debts being built up are due to the lengthy waiting times for an initial payment, being paid monthly in arrears and reduced incomes compared to legacy benefits.

This resonates with our own research which shows that:

  1. The minimum five-week waiting period is often leaving the most vulnerable in society with nothing to survive on while they wait

  2. Being paid monthly in arrears is resulting in people struggling to pay bills that are often a month in advance, such as rent

  3. Universal Credit is by and large less generous than the system it is replacing - this reduction in income means people are worse off.

As a result of this, people claiming Universal Credit are contacting us in desperation. One claimant told us: “I am going to be in the position where after my rent is paid, I will have £20 to last me a month.”

Universal Credit survey statistics

  • Over a third are experiencing housing payment arrears

  • Among those who were in arrears, 65% only fell into debt after they made their claim

  • 4 in 10 are struggling to keep up with their bills eight to nine months into their claim

  • Just under half had fallen behind with bills and credit commitments within three months of their claim

  • 71% of those in arrears three months into their claim were still in arrears eight months in – and 44% said their debt had become larger

  • 50% had to obtain additional funds during the three months prior to interview

  • 33% of claimants had received money from friends or family

  • 11% had gained or extended a bank overdraft.

If you are struggling on Universal Credit, find out what else you may be entitled to by using the Turn2us Benefits Calculator.