That first wait is horrible. I got into £810 debt.

I was never in debt. Then Universal Credit came along

I waited nine weeks for Universal Credit. They told me they didn’t get the form they needed, so I sent it off again, then they sent me another one to fill in, and it just carried on like that.

It’s sorted now but it took so, so long. For nine weeks I had to rely on my mum and some friends, just doing what I could to get by. It’s a nightmare and I’d rather be back in jail, really I would.

I’m getting depressed all the time. When you ring the benefits people and ask for some support, you’re told to talk to the council, then the council refer you back to them.

I live now on £91 a fortnight. How can you live on that? I don’t. I have court fines to pay, and some rent goes out, and I have old bills to pay and £15 to £20 a fortnight goes out for gas and electricity, then £20 on shopping. I just have to shop in pound shops and try to get offers.

I’ve been out of jail for about six months, but with this Universal Credit I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want ‘owt for nowt’ but I have nothing to pay with. In my flat, I haven’t got a washer, all I’ve got is a rug and a tele. I want to get my basics but everyone says there’s nothing they can do. The Job Centre tell you to ring the council and the council tell you to ring them. I don’t understand how I can get help.

Some people say, ‘oh these foreigners get this and that’. So they should, I say – they’ve come from nothing. But I just want a little bit of help as well.

A lot of people have been hurt now from Universal Credit. I feel like I shouldn’t be moaning, I don’t like to, but they’re not giving people what they should. That first wait is horrible. I got into £810 debt. I went to a guy to borrow some money, and to friends, but other people would not be able to even get that help.

I am severely depressed. If they paid the money weekly or every two weeks, that would make a big difference. I said to them as well that they shouldn’t give me the rent, they should give it straight to the landlord. If you give people it all, they might spend the rent, then they are down. It’s a vicious cycle.

Before Universal Credit, I just owed a few people, but nothing much. Then Universal Credit came in and changed it. There are a lot of people suffering. On my estate, there are a lot of people really, really struggling. Everybody is in some bother, it’s such hard work. I have got nothing in, nothing to work with. I’m on my own, but I’m starting to see my kids again after being in jail. I need to not go back to prison, or I will never see my kids for years, but this is just so hard.

I rang the Universal Credit line and they said to ring the council. I rang the council again and that time I was breaking down. They rang me back and put me in touch with the food bank and that’s where I am now. That’s how it goes. I might have had to steal if it had not been for that. It was easier in jail because you get what you really need. If the food bank was not here, I would be out shoplifting, just to get something, anything, for my stomach.

I think, if it wasn’t for my kids, I might have killed myself by now. It would be easier not being here, or easier being back in jail. This system is just horrible.

  • This account was given anonymously by a Universal Credit recipient in Greater Manchester.
  • If you have had suicidal thoughts or are concerned about someone, you can phone Samaritans 24 hours a day on 116 123 or find your local branch at samaritans.org/branches

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