A COUPLE on Universal Credit have lost their baby after a benefits bungle left them homeless and sleeping rough.
Debbie Ballard and Ryan Gifford, both 23, lost their home in December and had to spend 15 nights sheltering in a car park.
The couple, from Plymouth, say they were moved onto Universal Credit during a brief split – and their automatic rent payment was missed.
Their landlord later evicted them from their flat.
Heartbroken Debbie said: “Losing my baby makes me feel like s**t. I feel useless and worthless.
“I was about six weeks pregnant when we were street homeless in December. I had a miscarriage because of all the stress.”
And she added: “All we want is a chance for us to be a proper family.”
But the flat was far from perfect, she admitted, and claims it was filled with mould and rats outside.
The pair claimed they didn’t know that their rent wouldn’t be paid directly to the landlord until it was too late.
Their harrowing tale comes after The Sun launched its Make Universal Credit Work campaign last month, urging ministers to make vital changes to the system before it’s too late.
We’ve told of Brits losing their homes, having nothing to give their kids at Christmas and having to beg friends and family for food to survive.
Amber Rudd confirmed this week that the number of people on the new welfare programme would DOUBLE this year.
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work
Universal Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.
One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the government to:
- Get paid faster: The government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7 million from being pushed into debt.
- Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
- Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email UniversalCredit@the-sun.co.uk to share your story.
Debbie said: “Our Housing Benefit was being paid direct to the landlord but when it switched over to Universal Credit he said we were in arrears and served us with a notice and said he would take us to court.
“It’s too late now. We should have been told that before we were made homeless.”
Debbie says the pair were without cash for eight weeks and they were pushed to the brink by sleeping in a car park in the harbour.
“It was so cold at night. When we were on the streets you felt like you were taking one step forward and four steps back.
The pair are thankfully now in emergency accommodation, but they still have just £161 a month to live on.
Her partner Ryan said that he fears people will turn to a life of crime on the new benefit.
Ryan said: “We lost our home when we were switched over to Universal Credit.
“I want Universal Credit to stop. I think that now Universal Credit is coming in properly it’s going to get a lot worse. It’s going to be a nightmare.
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“Everybody who has a drink or drug habit is going to be shoplifting to feed their habits.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We are working with Mr Gifford to support him with his Universal Credit claim.
“If requested we can arrange for rent to be paid directly to the landlord.”
Earlier today a headteacher warned that kids were stealing apple cores from bins just to survive while their parents are struggling on Universal Credit.
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