7.5 Million Households at Risk of Falling into Debt Due to Universal Credit

Over 7.5 million households could fall into debt while waiting for Universal Credit payments, should they lose their jobs or become too ill to work, according to new research from The Equality Trust. 

Those applying for Universal Credit face a six week delay before they receive their first payment, but over 45 per cent of non-retired households have too little saved to pay for six weeks’ worth of household bills,[1] the research finds. 

Almost four-fifths (79 per cent) of single parent households have less than six weeks’ worth of savings. 

Executive Director of The Equality Trust, Dr Wanda Wyporska, said: 

“At a time of year where many people are likely to get ill or chronic illness can get worse, if you are too ill to work or laid off, then you are likely to face an agonising wait for Universal Credit over the festive period. For many, their dreams of a decent family Christmas will be dashed by debt. 

“For many children, it won’t be a visit to Santa’s Grotto they look forward to, but a trip to a food bank. We know that delayed social security payments such as Universal Credit are the number one cause of visits to foodbanks.[2]

“The UK has one of the highest levels of inequality outside of the developing world, and Christmas is truly a time of haves and have nots. We call on the Government to scrap this disastrous policy and save households from a Dickensian Christmas.

Notes to editors

All figures for household savings have been compiled by The Equality Trust using data from the Office for National Statistics Wealth and Assets Survey https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/doi?sn=7215#4 which is Crown Copyright. The use of the ONS statistical data in this work does not imply the endorsement of the ONS in relation to the interpretation or analysis of the statistical data. This work uses research datasets which may not exactly reproduce National Statistics aggregates

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact info@equalitytrust.org.uk

[1] Household bills are determined through the ONS’ Family Spending report and are calculated by household decile as measured by income. For example, those households in the poorest decile saw their levels of savings compared to the average six week household bill for households in the poorest decile. This process was repeated for each decile.

[2] https://www.trusselltrust.org/2016/11/08/half-million-emergency-food-parcels-distributed-trussell-trust-foodbanks-six-months/