Scarborough's Universal Credit claimants need food parcels to get by

The shock figures have been revealed by Scarborough Borough Council
The shock figures have been revealed by Scarborough Borough Council

The rollout of Universal Credit in the Scarborough borough has left people needing food parcels to get by, a new council report has claimed.

Nearly 800 people in Scarborough and Whitby have been moved onto the new monthly benefit and many are struggling with the online element of the Government's scheme.

The claims have been made by Scarborough Borough Council cabinet member Cllr Sandra Turner (Con).

Coun Turner, who has the Communities portfolio on the authority's cabinet, goes on to say that many are also struggling to pay their rent due to how the benefit is paid.

She added that the Rainbow Centre, a social action charity which helps disadvantaged people in the town, had also seen a sharp rise in people coming to it since Universal Credit was introduced earlier this year.

Universal Credit replaced six existing benefits, including Housing Benefit, Income Support and Job Seekers Allowance.

The new benefit, which is only applicable to working-age customers, is different from current benefits as it is a predominantly an online benefit.

Cllr Turner wrote that the council's Benefits Team has been helping people who do not have access to a mobile phone and the internet to maintain their claims.

In a report to go before Monday's full council meeting in Scarborough Cllr Turner wrote: "As Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears with a minimum five/six weeks delay for the first payment [the Rainbow Centre] is finding many more people are needing food parcels as they struggle to make their money last.

"Worryingly, but as expected, more families are being affected now as they too are brought into the Universal Credit roll out. Similar to the benefits team the Rainbow Centre is finding that residents are struggling to keep up with the IT requirements.

"The need to record job searches online is making the Centre fear an increase in people sanctioned over the next few months as they fail to record job searches correctly.

"Another key part of Universal Credit is that a customer’s housing element is usually paid directly to themselves.

"The new worry is that a lack of understanding of what Universal Credit is made up of means that customers are unaware that they have to pay their rent and arrears to landlords are increasing."

The report adds that the number of people seeking support from the council's Benefits Team is "much higher" than the Department for Work and Pensions estimated.

Cllr Turner says the demand is "putting a strain" on the Benefits Team.

In total, 784 people in the borough have been moved onto Universal Credit.

Of those, 402 are unemployed with 382 in employment.