Poverty Truth in Lockdown- Frustrations of a job seeker & income

The beginning of lockdown was a very worrying time to a lot of people, loss of jobs, temporary closures and claiming the correct benefits.

The fear of falling into poverty was more real than ever for families and especially those already on a low income.

Here are some of the concerns from our community members on the benefit system during Covid-19.

The Benefit system

  • Lack of information or delayed information of rules for signing on, job search requirements and new financial circumstances (UC)
  • The lack of support, those who are already digitally excluded found it exceedingly difficult to access the correct, up to date information
  • New claimants unsure of exactly what they would be entitled to, so being able to budget for the next months was difficult (UC)
  • Delays in PIP assessments, so people are left without entitlements a for longer period, even though they made have waited a long time already. Assessments over the phone, people have lack of support because of phone call assessments.

“My pip assessment has been delayed; I’ve already waited 6 weeks without any income, its really getting me down, I’m already in debt and juggling with which bills I can afford to pay” – Stuart, Stockton on Tees

  • Delays on PIP/ESA tribunals – some people have already been waiting for over a year and to have them delayed even further just makes a bad situation worse.

“I would have had my support worker with me at the tribunal as I suffer from anxiety and I’m also epileptic, I’m now having a conference call tribunal and feeling nervous about the outcome” – Lyndsey, Thrive commissioner

  • Legacy benefits (Income Support and Job seekers allowance) have remained unchanged

“it’s not really fair, how can others on certain benefits get top-ups but not those on the benefits people were entitled to before Universal Credit” – Thrive community commissioner

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