Debt Concerns Raised as Universal Credit Plans Rolled Out in Limavady
October 3, 2017
Concerns have been raised about the potential debt problems that ongoing changes to the benefits system in parts of Northern Ireland might cause.
The government’s new Universal Credit system is being rolled on in the town of Limavady and is intended to be a means of simplifying the process of administering benefits.
However, some people working in the area are fearful that the changes will force some benefit claimants into increasingly serious debt problems.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Myra McKeown from a local branch of the debt help charity StepChange has suggested that a lot of people in Limavady will struggle to adjust to the new methods of administering benefit payments.
The town is typically to be found among the areas of Northern Ireland with the highest levels of unemployment, so there is scope for any problems with the initial implementation of Universal Credit to have a significant impact.
“Already the introduction of this system is pushing people towards more debt,” McKeown is quoted as saying.
“People are being left without money and so are resorting to taking out doorstep loans. We estimate that the average household is losing around £60 per month. That’s £720 per year, which is a lot to those on benefits.”
StepChange estimates that close to £4.5 million worth of debt is currently outstanding among the people who live in or close to Limavady and are in contact with its operators in the area.
According to Ms McKeown, among the potential causes for concern is the idea that a considerable number of people will find it very difficult to apply for Universal Credit payments because they will soon only be able to do so digitally.
Another potential problem is apparently that most claimants are accustomed to receiving benefit payments on a weekly or fortnightly basis but they will need to get used to receiving Universal Credit payments on a monthly basis.
“The new system is monthly and they are not ready to handle it, as they haven’t had to budget like this before,” McKeown told the Telegraph.
If you live anywhere in Northern Ireland and you need advice on handling your debt problems then Northern Ireland Debt Solutions can help. Contact us to arrange a free consultation.