Universal Credit roll-out could leave Peterborough families short of money at Christmas charity warns

Citizens Advice Peterborough research and campaign co-ordinator Nicky Rees -  the CAB is looking for volunteers. EMN-170910-224623009
Citizens Advice Peterborough research and campaign co-ordinator Nicky Rees - the CAB is looking for volunteers. EMN-170910-224623009
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Jobseekers in Peterborough could be left short of money at Christmas due to a new benefits system, a city charity is warning.

Peterborough Citizens Advice Bureau (PCAB) believes November 15 could not be a worse time to fully roll-out Universal Credit in the city.

The controversial system combines six benefits into one monthly payment, but it has been criticised because recipients do not receive their first full payment for six weeks, with some waiting longer.

Nicky Rees, research and campaigns coordinator for PCAB, based in St Mark’s Street, said: “It’s going to impact on our claimants and we are trying to prepare for it as well as we can.

“Being so close to Christmas could not have come at a worse time. If you put a claim in at the start of December you will get no money until after Christmas.”

PCAB is holding an open day on Tuesday, October 31 from 11am to 1pm to recruit new volunteers as it expects to be far busier once Universal Credit is fully rolled-out.

Chief executive Keith Jones said the new benefits system is a good thing, but that implementing it is a challenge.

He added: “If people come in and see us and say it’s about Universal Credit they will jump the queue.”

Juliet Welch, foodbank manager in Peterborough, said: “We do expect to see an increase in clients and we hope that we can support them. We ran low in the summer due to already seeing a 27 per cent increase in clients from last year.”

In Peterborough, 4,178 working age single claimants are now on Universal Credit, with the full roll-out to include all other claimants.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said Universal Credit is helping people into work and that recipients can receive an advanced payment in the first six weeks. He added: “The vast majority of claimants are comfortable managing their money, and for anyone who needs extra help we have budgeting advice and benefit advances.”

To attend the PCAB open day email: volunteering@peterboroughcab.org.uk.