Rugby man ‘slept in graveyard at Christmas’ because of benefit cut

Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)  candidate Pete McLaren
Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate Pete McLaren

A Rugby man spent Christmas in a tent in a graveyard after his benefits were withdrawn unfairly, according to an election candidate.

Universal Credit, the Government’s flagship benefit reform, is being introduced nationwide this week – having been trialled in Rugby for 18 months.

And Pete McLaren, who will stand in the General Election for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in Rugby, fears the worst after experiences he says he has heard from townspeople.

Mr McLaren said: “Members of Rugby TUSC have been talking to claimants as we leaflet outside Rugby Job Centre virtually every week, and it is quite clear that local people forced onto Universal Credit have suffered increased poverty as a result.

“A claimant we met in January had been sanctioned before Christmas because he could not use a computer in the time available at the Job Centre to apply for jobs, and had no computer at home to try again.

“As a result, he spent Christmas in a tent on a graveyard in Rugby because his landlord threw him out, as he could not pay his rent.”

Mr McLaren also heard of a man who had his benefits docked for three months after accidently missing one appointment at the job centre.

Responding to the claims, Rugby MP Mark Pawsey said: “Universal Credit will transform the welfare state in Britain, bring £33 billion in economic benefits to society and make three million families better off by £176 a month including many families in Rugby.

“It is a single monthly payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income and aims to ensure that work always pays. Most claimants on low incomes will still be paid Universal Credit when they first start a new job or increase their part-time hours helping them into sustainable employment.

“By spring 2015, one in three of the country’s Jobcentres will be taking claims for the new benefit and I am delighted that early results have revealed that 65 per cent of people are finding that Universal Credit provides a better financial incentive to work.

“These reforms will mean many more families in Rugby will have the security of a regular pay packet.”