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UNIVERSAL CREDIT (UC) will leave some Grenfell survivors without any money over Christmas, Labour’s Emma Dent Coad has warned.
The MP, whose constituency includes the burnt-out tower block, has urged the government to delay this week’s local launch of the much-criticised benefit system.
UC is due to be introduced in North Kensington just 13 days before Christmas. It was postponed from its scheduled date in June 2017 following the blaze that killed 72 people.
Speaking yesterday, Ms Dent Coad said it was unacceptable that the first payment would take five weeks to come through.
She said: “It’s unthinkable, they’re going to have another Christmas now wondering whether they can afford to buy food, let alone presents for their children.”
Highlighting the problems survivors faced last Christmas when some payouts by the local council were delayed, Ms Dent Coad wrote to then work and pensions secretary Esther McVey on November 2 urging the government not to inflict more pain on families who had “already lost so much.”
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says that advances of up to 100 per cent are available for people from the first day of their claim. But Ms Dent Coad said that requesting advances for Christmas would leave people facing “many future months without enough income to cover their expenses.”
Kensington and Chelsea council leader Elizabeth Campbell also wrote to Ms McVey in March seeking a halt to the roll-out “for the foreseeable future.”
Survivor Maher Khoudair, who now lives elsewhere in Kensington with his family, said the decision to roll out the scheme was wrong and that he did not know how some people would cope over the holiday.
A DWP spokesman claimed that the department has put in place a range of special measures in preparation for the roll-out, including “targeted support” and “additional help.”
But Linda Burnip of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said that, despite the DWP’s offer of pre-payments, there was still the issue of whether UC applications would be processed in time.
“I’m sure it would be quite simple to pause the roll-out until sometime next year,” she said. “It’s completely callous — and just typical of the Tories.”
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