DON'T BANK ON IT Universal Credit staff BANNED from giving out foodbank vouchers to people unable to afford food

A leaked email from jobcentre staff in Lewes said that the Department for Work and Pensions policy "does not permit" foodbank referrals

11 February 2019 - 08:53

UNIVERSAL Credit staff have been banned from handing out foodbank vouchers to hungry people who can't afford to buy food.

Workers are advised to "verbally signpost" struggling people to charities who can formally refer them instead, further delaying the time it takes to get help.

A leaked email from staff at Lewes Jobcentre in East Sussex, published on neighbourhood watch site Leweseye, said that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) policy "does not permit" foodbank referrals.

Thousands of households claiming the Government's new benefit scheme are being plunged into poverty due to an array of faults with the system, prompting The Sun to launch a campaign to Make Universal Credit Work.

We want the five-week wait for your first payment to be slashed to two, parents to get help with child care costs upfront and the taper rate reduced to 50p from 63p.

We've heard from hundreds of families who've had to rely on foodbanks to put meals on the table, such as Samantha Evans from Barnsley who has used the service to feed her kids.

 People need to be referred to a foodbank before they can claim a handout
Getty - Contributor
People need to be referred to a foodbank before they can claim a handout

The DWP has denied that it has stopped referring desperate claimants to foodbanks and that its "policy has not changed".

But a second leaked email from a foodbank in Eastbourne, also in East Sussex, suggests that more than one jobcentre is following the no-referral advice, although it's not clear how widespread the issue is.

In one of the emails, the jobcentre worker wrote: "While we at Lewes Jobcentre have been adopting a locally agreed process, we have been advised that DWP policy does not permit Jobcentres to refer customers to foodbanks by issuing vouchers or referral forms.

"We are allowed to verbally signpost them to your service and would be happy to do this, but unsure if this meets your needs."

Many foodbanks won't hand out help unless someone has been officially referred to avoid resources being used up by those who don't desperately need it.

While charities such as Citizens Advice, GPs and schools can make referrals, only the DWP has full access to someone's financial situation.

That makes it harder for other organisations to prove a claimant is in need of the support which may lead them to be less inclined to issue vouchers.

A DWP spokesperson told The Sun: "Jobcentres will signpost people to foodbanks and other services according to their individual circumstances, as part of their support to help people manage their finances and get into work."

One million people are already on Universal Credit, claiming payments such as child benefit, tax credits, housing benefit, income support and jobseekers' allowance.

Foodbanks have seen an up to 22 per cent spike in the number of people relying on them since Universal Credit started to be rolled out in 2013.

Earlier this week, we revealed how Universal Credit has been rated worse than any other benefit by an official study by the DWP.

Citizens Advice has already been roped in by the Government with a £39million deal to help make sure claimants get their first payment on time.

But still, half of Brits are falling behind on their rent due to the crippling five-week wait for their first payment.

This news 22 hits received.

COMMENTS

  • 0 Comment
No comments added yet. Be the first to comment..
MAY INTEREST YOU x
JASE THE ACE Roy and Root tons power England to third biggest run chase ever in Barbados
JASE THE ACE Roy and Root tons power England to third biggest run...
DELAY, MAY... OR PAY Theresa May told to delay Brexit if there’s No Deal to halt Commons rebellion
DELAY, MAY... OR PAY Theresa May told to delay Brexit if there’s No...