Universal Credit claims slow in Kent as new reality bites for 70,000 claimants.

The number of people claiming Universal Credit (UC) across JobCentre’s in Kent slowed remarkably between May 14th 2020 to June 11th 2020.

UC can be claimed by both people in or out of work.

People claiming UC at Kent JobCentres grew by just 3,448 or 2.34%, between May & June. This is not so exceptional, even given the fact that between March & April those claiming UC rose by 46% and in our last post where we announced between April & May claims for UC rose by 25%, However, we did predicte it would fall back to single digits, due to the furlough scheme kicking in.

Broken down by the 13 Jobcentres in Kent, the figures reveal Gravesend saw the single largest number of people claiming UC, 3.73% or 413 people.

The lowest number where people claimed was Sittingbourne where just 1.44% or 119 people claimed UC.

Screenshot from 2020-07-16 22-00-01

For the Council’s of Kent this means a decrease in the Council Tax budgets, as those claiming UC may make a claim for Council Tax Reduction CTR.

In the Folkestone & Hythe District it’s known that nearly 10,000 persons are in receipt of CTR. Between April and May nearly a 1,000 people claimed CTR in the district.

We spoke to Alice & Marcel who were both made redundant during the pandemic.

Marcel 33, from Ashford, worked in customer service for three years until he was made redundant on 1 May. “I was made redundant with immediate effect – no notice, no redundancy pay. The business went under.”

Marcel moved to the UK from France in 2015. He says he was unable to  get through and make a UC claim for days due to the phone lines being so busy.  “Every hour I called and prayed, cried , screamed and shouted in frustration unable to get through but in the end I basically gave up.”

Finally he got through in the last week of April  and received a universal credit payment in late May, but by then things were dreadful, he says. “It’s truly amazing how much missing one month’s pay can turn your whole life upside down.”

Alice 23, from Canterbury was made redundant from her job in a department store in the final week of May.

“Our world has been turned upside down in just seven weeks. My partner and I were trying for our first child, but that’s now on the back burner as our finances have altered massively. We’d been saving for a mortgage, but at the moment that dream has slipped over the horizon. We can manage the rent, but things are gonna be tight.”

Alice had been in her role for just 7 months, so did not qualify for redundancy pay, while her husband has just finished Uni has found the demand placed on him by the UC regime for job-hunting “tough in this climate”. Alice has taken a temporary job at a takeaway to help pay the rent and bills.

“We’ve both been applying for jobs, but it’s going to be really tough as unemployment in Kent has nearly doubled in just three months. Companies aren’t hiring as much, and I’m in competition with a lot of people with the same skills set as me. I’m anxious to say the least. We both hoped to be in work this year. It was meant to be our year. But now I worry about losing our home, paying the bills and putting food on the table. I’m not a scrounger I want to work, but right now the odds seemed so stacked against me and my partner. There have been times, if I’m honest, where we’ve both felt anxious and depressed about our future.”

If you find yourself having to make a claim for UC, we would strongly advise you collect together all your financial incomings (wages slips etc) and outgoings ( council tax, water, electricity, gas etc)

If you need to claim Universal Credit you can do so ⇒ here

If you need to understand what Universal Credit is, a good explainer can be found ⇒ here

Once accepted onto UC you can apply for Council Tax Reduction ⇒ here

You can also apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to top up you rent for a max of 3 months ⇒ here

If on UC you can also apply for the Low Water Tariff from your water provider. You will need to supply supporting evidence and can make an application ⇒ here

Also if you are on UC you can apply for the Low Water Tariff from the company who takes your sewage away such as Southern Water Water for example. You’ll need to complete the application form.

The Shepwayvox Team

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About shepwayvox (1170 Articles)
Our sole motive is to inform the residents of Shepway - and beyond -as to that which is done in their name. email: shepwayvox@riseup.net

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