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Universal credit claimant gets benefits after 11 week wait

PUBLISHED: 17:41 19 December 2018

Lawrence Curtis shows the screen display of his Universal Credit account. Picture: Polly Hancock

Lawrence Curtis shows the screen display of his Universal Credit account. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

After an eleven week battle a Higbury man was finally paid all his benefits on yesterday – and he thanked the local press for raising the profile of his case.

Lawrence Curtis, of Kelross Road, wasn’t given any Universal Credit payments for 10 weeks, even though the Government’s new online-only system, which combines six legacy benefits into one payment, should be monthly.

The Gazette contacted the DWP last week on Lawrence’s behalf and later that day it deposited the £317 he was due for October.

But he was still due another £341, which has now been paid.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” he said. “I said I was in the Gazette in my online Universal Credit journal and I think it obviously helped.”

He also thanked his MP Jeremy Corbyn for lobbying the DWP.

Delays in payment saw him sink into £800 worth of rent arrears.

A DWP spokesperson last week said: “We are increasing the amount people can earn on Universal Credit by £1,000 before their payment begins to be reduced, to ensure work always pays.”

In Islington 70 people are switching to the benefit every day, according to the town hall.

Universal Credit started getting rolled out across the borough on June 20. More than 4,000 Islington households have already moved onto Universal Credit but there are still a further 21,000 or so left to go.

Since then, rent arrears have spiked and food bank use has quadrupled, with 44 extra referrals between June 20 and September alone.

The council also gave out double the usual amount of crisis payments, which help claimants cover living costs, in October.

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