A single mother who was forced to take out payday loans to fund child care while battling for universal credit is suing the DWP.
Nichola Salvato, 38, is demanding that the government step up efforts to make childcare work on the new system, after taking more than £ 1,000 in debt trying to take on a new job.
Currently, Britons on the new six-in-one benefit system can recover up to 85% of their costs, but they have to pay the costs up front.
The Sun is disputed within the framework of our Make Universal Credit Work Campaign for these fees to be prepaid.
Nichola, who lives in Brighton with her ten-year-old daughter Sofia, says the system discriminates against women – and it goes against the principle of trying to help people get back to work.
She told The Sun Online: “It was incredibly stressful – I had to borrow from my family, cut my hours, and take out multiple loans over a period of months.
“Being a single parent is already a big challenge, but adding poverty, loans, interest and all that together makes it untenable.
“I was completely alone, I panicked. I had to find a month’s money suddenly.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
How do you justify the prepayment of childcare costs for someone earning £ 200,000 upfront, but not for someone earning £ 30,000?
Single Mom Nichola
Nichola, who works for a charity and was previously a benefits advisor, was not eligible for the Flexible Support Fund or a budget loan to help cover costs.
She added: “I have looked at all the opportunities for help, but I don’t have a wealthy family or someone in the area to take care of my child.”
Nichola says the current system unfairly penalizes low incomes, while other childcare systems do not require Britons to pay up front.
And like many working mothers, during school vacations she also has to pay thousands of extra pounds up front.
“It is women who struggle the most here, 90% of single-parent families are women,” she added.
“I’m afraid to think about what it is for minimum wage folks, how they can afford it.
“How can you justify paying upfront childcare costs for someone earning £ 200,000 up front, but not for someone earning £ 30,000?
“It is so frustrating, so damaging for the lives of individuals, and potentially for hundreds of thousands of lives.”
The Sun wants to make universal credit work
The UNIVERSAL Credit replaces six services with a single monthly payment.
One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully deployed in 2023, nearly 7 million will be.
But there are big problems with the new flagship system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could make some families thousands of pounds a year worse.
And while working families can claim up to 85 percent of their child care expenses, they need to find the money to pay for child care up front – we’ve heard of families waiting. up to 6 months for the money.
Parents who work across the country told us they couldn’t take more hours – or even turned down better paying jobs or longer hours because of how much they were getting from their reduced benefits. .
It’s time to make universal credit work. We want the government to:
- Get paid faster: The government must cut Britons’ wait times for their first universal credit payments from five to two weeks, helping to keep $ 7 million out of debt.
- Keep more of what you earn:The work allowance should be increased and the progressive rate reduced from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
- Don’t be punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 percent of the money they can claim for child care up front instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help make universal credit work.
Fortunately, her new job allowed her to cut her hours and work from home to make the situation work for her.
But she hopes the DWP turns the system upside down to help others get back to work in the future.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on an ongoing matter.”