Groundswell repo: Universal Credit and homelessness, lessons learnt for a fairer society

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK over 1.8 million people have applied for Universal Credit (UC). So far, the Government tells us the system is resilient and coping well, this is welcome news.

Alongside Kings College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Groundswell has released research showing that the system is complicated and contradictory.

The UC system assumes capacities of spare time, computer skills, internet access, a bank account and being able to self-advocate. Such capacities are challenging for many people, but especially those facing the multiple health and social challenges linked with homelessness.

We as a society need to acknowledge and not forget adaptations to the UC system in the current crisis. Recent adjustments to ‘streamline’ applications and increase payment amounts do not universally make UC accessible for people who are homeless, but they are welcome. As detailed in their research, these challenges can have a negative impact on the health and well being of claimants.

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