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Delays to Universal Credit to force 2m more claimants to food banks, says housing association

Over 2m more people will rely on food banks by 2023 due to delays in receiving Universal Credit payments, a leading housing association has said.

According to The Riverside Group, a housing association with over 55,000 homes across the UK, 2.05m more people will be forced to rely on food banks by 2023.

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An additional 3m more people will see an increase in debt, with 3.5m additional people will struggle to pay their bills.

The damming forecast comes the housing association surveyed Universal Credit claimants, revealing that 41% of claimants currently use food banks while waiting for benefit payments.

By 2023, 7m people are expected to be claiming the controversial six in one benefit, a figure which The Riverside Group predicts will leave over 2m more people reliant on food bank handouts.

The survey also found that 90% of people currently wait more than four weeks to receive payments, with a further 43% waiting more than six weeks. 81% of claimants said waiting caused financial hardship, while 78% had to turn to loans from family and friends.

Spokesperson for The Riverside Group Hugh Owens said: “Our findings clearly show that our tenants are experiencing increased financial difficulty because of the wait for Universal Credit.”

“The five week wait means that many people are going without food or heating and are getting into debt to cover their bills.”

“While we have always welcomed the simplicity that moving to an integrated benefit such as Universal Credit is intended to bring, the way it is being implemented in practice means that instead of acting as a safety net, it is dragging people into debt,” he added.

The Riverside Group has joined the Trussell’s Trust’s #5WeeksTooLong campaign, which calls on the government to end the five-week wait for Universal Credit.

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