Last October, a landlord called LBC and spoke to presenter James O’Brien about a tenant who was waiting for his Universal Credit payment. This Friday, he called again to give him an update on the situation. The man in question killed himself.
The Canary recently reported on the benefit’s major failings. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has failed to support vulnerable claimants and has underestimated the hardship Universal Credit is causing. 10,000 people have waited five months or longer for their payment.
A heartbreaking story
Dan rents out homes to many tenants who are benefit claimants. O’Brien asked Dan if the situation with Universal Credit was improving. Dan explained that from his perspective, it seems to be getting worse. His tenants don’t have enough money for food. Financial difficulties have also been fuelling their mental health issues. And updating O’Brien on one tenant he mentioned last year, Dan said:
Unfortunately, the chap who I previously spoke about, he killed himself in our apartment. About two weeks after, there was a payment made to him.
He was known to the local authorities. His mental health was getting worse due to the fact that he couldn’t afford to do anything.
The mental health impact of Universal Credit
People on Twitter shared O’Brien’s upset about the tragedy, as well as stories of people struggling under the benefits system. One user, who works in mental health, tweeted:
@mrjamesob @lbc I work in the field of MH. I see hospitals not being able to discharge a person because it is not safe because they have no way of caring for themselves. I see people selfharming and attempting suicide due to the stress UC has caused. #SuicidePrevention
— Katie Dalrymple #FBPE (@mrs_katie_d85) June 15, 2018
As The Canary previously reported, the roll-out of Universal Credit has sent claimants into desperate situations as they go without payment.
Living in a climate of fear whereby loss of money is a constant threat hanging over your head is likely to lead to poor mental wellbeing. Increased use of sanctions will further exacerbate already challenging circumstances for some of the most vulnerable in society.
Information obtained by Mental Health Foundation Scotland suggests that there have been an increasing number of phone calls to the Department of Work and Pensions from those who identified as being at risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts as a result of the sanctions being forced on them or changes to their benefits. The impact of UC is a real public health concern.
Asides from sanctions, other financial pressures exist within the UC structure. On average, there is a full six-week waiting and assessment period before the first UC payment is made.
The roll-out of Universal Credit is leaving vulnerable people insecure when it should really add security to their lives. The welfare system is driving debt, worsening poverty, and leaving people feeling suicidal. It’s becoming clearer every day that Universal Credit just isn’t working. We can’t afford to lose any more lives to this broken system.
– Read more articles from The Canary on Universal Credit.
– Join us, so we can keep bringing you the news that matters.
Featured image via screengrab
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?