YP Letters: How Universal Credit hits the most vulnerable

From: Barrie Stephenson, Chairman, Restore (York) Ltd.

PLEASE could I applaud The Yorkshire Post for its excellent series highlighting the challenges of introducing Universal Credit (UC). There is no doubt, in our experience, the transition has badly let down homeless people, who are in most need of help and support.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

I am the chairman of a charity in York called Restore which provides supported housing for single people who would otherwise be homeless.

The Yorkshire Post's week-long series on Universal Credit has been praised.

The workload of our support staff has increased steeply by the failures of the roll out of UC in July 2017.

Of more concern are the case studies that show our tenants have faced unnecessary and prolonged hardship. In the most severe cases, two of our tenants contemplated suicide as they were subject to delays and a computer systems they didn’t understand.

A recently unemployed man was offered £20.00 a week to cover all his costs, and then suffered a period of sanction because the Job Centre had failed to record that he had attended a mandatory interview, taking away what little he had already been awarded.

The financial strain on the limited resources of the charity also increase because tenants inevitably fall behind with their top up rent payments and staff are forced to spend time locating and purchasing food for those whose payments are delayed, stopped or simply inadequate.

Whatever the ambitions of this Government when they introduced UC, the outworking of their policy has demonstrated without a doubt they have fallen short. As a consequence, the most vulnerable people in York and Yorkshire are left in a state of more stress and without cash at the neediest time of their lives.

UC has to be fixed soon and in the mean time we will do our utmost to support the victims of this incompetence.

Hanging on the telephone

From: AW Clarke, Martin Close, Louth.

I HAVE moved house quite recently and it has given me great insight into the so-called communications advances in Britain.

We are told all about the ‘white heat’ of technology and I suppose that this includes the internet, robots etc.

My story is that, though I am used to using the internet for my contact with the utilities and official bodies, when I moved to my new address my intenet connection was delayed in being set up – in spite of the fact that I had given my provider good notice of the date of my arrival.

Thus began the saga of trying to contact all my suppliers of services via telephone. Without exception, each and everyone I phoned, whatever the time of day, was ‘experiencing heavy traffic’ and I would have to wait, sometimes up to 50 minutes for someone to answer. This included, alarmingly, the GP practice.

Altogether my time on the phone, awaiting the services of my internet company, totalled some seven hours.

I tell this story in the hope someone may be able to explain to me why, if many of us use the internet for our contact with companies, is the phone so busy?

Could it be that organisations have cut their personnel to the bone to increase their profits – at the expense of the customer?

Dignity of marriage

From: John Riseley, Harcourt Drive, Harrogate.

I WELCOME Theresa May’s decision to extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples (The Yorkshire Post, October 3). Civil partnership was designed to give legal recognition to a close relationship without conferring the gravitas of traditional marriage.

Gay couples understandably resented being offered only this option while some heterosexual couples would have preferred it.

With civil partnership open to all, it could again serve its unspoken purpose of maintaining the dignity of marriage. This was previously seen as being threatened by same–sex marriage when the real affront to it comes from serial marriage and divorce.

In the future, we will be able to deny marriage to those whose fickleness brings it into disrepute without the bind that this would also deny them the security and stabilising influence of a legal contract.

Fix rail before the bike race

From: Mrs A Sessions, Church Road, Liversedge.

CONGRATULATIONS to Sir Gary Verity on working his magic to bring cycling’s world championships to Yorkshire.

Could he work his magic again to mend our broken railway system before the tourists arrive? Otherwise, he will need to add a PS to his information sheets saying ‘do not’ plan to use the railways in Yorkshire!

Threat to the planet’s lungs

From: Aled Jones, Southcliffe Road, Bridlington.

HOW can anyone seriously contemplate destroying a rainforest the size of the UK, when trees are the precious lungs of our planet and one of our strongest defences against climate change?

But that’s what the largest palm oil traders on the planet have done in the last three decades and it’s high time they cleaned up their act.

Bags a waste

From: Coun Tim Mickleburgh (Lab), Boulevard Avenue, Grimsby.

IF we’re clamping down on plastic bags, then what about those unwanted bags that charities push through our letterboxes? They simply stock up in a drawer at home, in case I need them in future.