“Humiliated and worthless:” Doncaster couple £10,000 in debt over Universal Credit problems

Kirsty and Dale have been left 10,000 in debt
Kirsty and Dale have been left 10,000 in debt

A Doncaster family have told how they are £10,000 in debt and have had to sell off cars, furniture and jewellery because of Universal Credit problems.

Mum of one Kirsty Snape and husband Dale have taken out a string of payday loans and have fallen behind on rent and bills while they waited for their first payment of the controversial Government credit.

The couple, who receive around £1,000 a month in Universal Credit, say its not enough to make ends meet and they have pawned household items to pay for rent, bills and food.

The couple, who live in Doncaster and have a one-year-old daughter Lydia, have told The Sun of their worries.

READ MORE: Universal Credit could create £24m rent black hole in Doncaster

“It’s making people vulnerable, knowing they have to wait a certain number of weeks to get a payment," she said.

"People will turn to drugs, prostitution, loan sharks."

Because Dale works variable hours as a HGV driver, the family never know how much benefit they'll receive until a few days before and they first started claiming when they had to move house.

READ MORE: Thousands of low wage earners in Doncaster on Universal Credit

"It made us feel so humiliated, worthless," said Kirsty. “Having worked so hard for everything only then to lose it because of Universal Credit, it’s very damaging to a human being.

"He’s had to sell special stuff which has a huge sentimental value. It’s awful, but he has to feed his daughter. It’s those kinds of sacrifices we’re having to make."

She was given a £500 advance to tide her over during the six week wait for her first Universal Credit payment, but this wasn't enough to cover her bills and the couple took out seven pay day loans to meet costs.

READ MORE: Universal Credit claimants being pushed to use foodbanks

The pair sold their possessions – two cars and furniture – and also pawned a necklace belonging to Dale’s late father for just £80.

The controversial credit often takes five weeks to be paid – and in the meantime, those claiming are left struggling.

She said she was unable to afford presents for their daughter at Christmas and said they would be lucky to have heating and light on Christmas Day.

“If I don’t have the money for gas and electric, I don’t top it up," she said "It’s more important to have a meal for my daughter.”

What is universal credit?

Universal credit is a benefit for working-age people, replacing six benefits and merging them into one payment:

income support

income-based jobseeker's allowance

income-related employment and support allowance

housing benefit

child tax credit

working tax credit

It was designed to make claiming benefits simpler, and is being introduced in stages across the UK.