David Jones, owner of D Jones Quality Butcher in Earlsheaton, Dewsbury is offering a free, small Christmas hamper, which includes turkey and pigs in blankets, to local Universal Credit claimants who will not get their first payment until the new year.
There is now a standard five week wait for the controversial benefit to come through, so any new claimants may have little or no money to tide them over through the Christmas period if they apply for Universal Credit now.
‘Families left with no money or just a pittance for weeks on end’
Mr Jones, 52, noticed how Universal Credit was affecting people in his local area, when it was implemented just few months ago.
The butcher spoke to “families left with no money or just a pittance for weeks on end”, giving away Â£1,000 worth of meat to claimants who were struggling.
“They just don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” said Mr Jones. “I think [Universal Credit] is a barbaric, cruel benefit that is deliberately imposing great hardship on people who are the most vulnerable in our society.
“Going without money over Christmas doesn’t bear thinking about,” he said.
Christmas hamper for those struggling over Christmas
Just before 25 December, certain residents will be able to pick up a small Christmas hamper containing a turkey crown, pigs in blankets and a pork pie.
The value of the box is around Â£25 and for those who can’t travel, staff may be able to make a delivery.
Mr Jones hopes to help as many people as he can, but said there was a limit to how many free hampers he could provide.
The butcher’s Christmas initiative is not for just anyone, says Mr Jones, stipulating that claimants must be at risk of having no payment before Christmas and must live in the local area.
Referring to when he previously gave away his products to Universal Credit claimants, Mr Jones said: “They were absolutely delighted, overwhelmed. “Their reaction was superb. It restored a little bit of their faith in humanity.”
Problems with Universal Credit
Universal Credit, which rolls six legacy benefits into one monthly payment, has been highly criticised since the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) began rolling it out in 2013.
Those claiming or trying to claim Universal Credit have reported issues with signing on to the digital system, having to wait longer than five weeks for their first payment or receiving less money than on the legacy benefits system.
The DWP says Universal Credit is “replacing a complex, out-of-date benefit system, moving people into work faster and helping them out of poverty”.
“We have also recently agreed a partnership with Citizens Advice to help vulnerable people make and manage their benefit claims.”
A DWP spokeswoman said: “Universal Credit has been a force for good in many cases and Jobcentre staff are committed to ensuring people get the right support this Christmas.
“People can claim up to 100 per cent advance payments from day one and budgeting support is also available.”