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Universal Credit: Benefits system struggling to cope with new applications

The government’s Universal Credit (UC) benefits system is struggling to cope with the number of new applications, following the coronavirus outbreak.

BBC Newsnight journalist Lewis Goodall tweeted last night to say that several new UC applicants had got to touch to say they are worried about the system being totally log-jammed.

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“Hearing more and more from laid off people telling me they can’t complete their Universal Credit application because the phone lines are jammed,” Goodall said.

“A couple of applicants have told me they’ve been trying on and off for a week and had no luck.”

Goodall says he’s spoken to someone who is the 112,000th person in the queue for UC identity verification, while someone else is 40,000th in the queue, but has only moved up 2,000 places in 24 hours.

As part of his measures to deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, Chancellor Rishi Sunak scrapped the minimum income floor for UC, and increased the standard allowance by £1,000 for the next 12 months.

However, with so many people now facing financial problems thanks to coronavirus, the scandal-hit benefits system seems entirely unable to cope.

The Tories need to fix it, and fast.

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