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Holiday hunger

Unite survey shows Universal Credit holiday hell as kids go without food
Jody Whitehill, Thursday, August 1st, 2019

Universal Credit (UC) is causing thousands of children to go hungry this summer according to a survey by Unite.


More than four fifths (79 per cent) of parents in a survey of over 1,000 Universal Credit (UC) claimants said they found it hard to make ends meet during the school holidays. Many had been put into debt, forced to rely on foodbanks or the help of friends and family because of the disgraceful benefit system.


Unite is calling for a stop to the controversial new UC system and for it to be replaced with a social security system that is fair and treats people in a humane way.


The survey published today (August 1) coincides with a national day of action against UC with 63 events taking place across England and Wales.


The loss of free school meals during the holidays adds between £30 and £40 a week to parents’ outgoings. Families with children are more likely to fall into crisis and make up over half of people at foodbanks.


Grim reading

During six weeks of May and June, 2055 people responded to the survey including 1173 UC claimants. The findings make grim reading and identify a number of issues facing a significant number of people claiming the benefit. Over 80 per cent of parents also identified birthdays and other family events and Christmas as times when it is particularly difficult to make ends meet. Appallingly 69 per cent of parents had skipped meals and 52 per cent said they couldn’t afford school trips.


Unite head of community, Liane Groves said, “Universal Credit is causing misery and suffering as the survey results clearly show. Hundreds of thousands of children in the UK are not being fed properly because their parents don’t have the money to make ends meet.


“This situation becomes even more critical during school holidays when children can’t rely on school dinners – which for too many is the only meal they will get in a day.”


Groves added, “Unite is demanding that social security payments are sufficient to provide families with enough money to buy healthy food for their children.


“Despite knowing how Universal Credit is forcing claimants into poverty, the government is still intent on ploughing ahead regardless, pushing families to the brink of survival.


“Evidence from voluntary and community organisations as well as unions and local authorities seems to be ignored as the government presses on with the implementation of Universal Credit,” she concluded.

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