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Christian group calls for budget to end benefit payments freeze

by Tola Mbakwe

The Salvation Army's call came ahead of the budget announcement on Wednesday afternoon and after new figures from the charity found three quarters of people across the UK think that more families are struggling financially today than they were five years ago.

The nationwide survey, which asked more than 2,000 people to give their opinions on rates of family poverty, revealed that 45 per cent believe that homelessness has increased in their community, and a further 71 per cent think there are more homeless people across the UK now than in 2012.

The results of the survey echoed The Salvation Army's worries about the effect the roll out of Universal Credit could have on the most vulnerable people.

Staff claimed the average six-week waiting lists for people to receive their Universal Credit payments has plunged more households into greater financial hardship; they want the rollout to be paused while the Government "fixes its bureaucratic procedures".

The Salvation Army's director for community services, Tony Daniels said: "Staff and volunteers at our churches and social centres across the UK have seen growing numbers of individuals and families on low incomes who are struggling to put food on the table or keep a roof over their heads.

"So often the people they meet have been forced to come to The Salvation Army because they are waiting for their Universal Credit claims to be processed or they've seen their benefit payments reduced or frozen because of changes in the way it's administered.

"This survey shows that the wider public are also aware of the problems that are all too obvious in their own communities and we are hopeful that Wednesday's budget will take steps to ensure that welfare reforms don't result in further financial hardship for the least well off households."

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman previously told Premier: "We're clear that advance payments are widely available from the start of anyone's UC claim, and urgent cases are fast-tracked so no-one should be without funds.

"We know the majority of UC claimants are confident in managing their money. Budgeting support and direct rent payments to landlords are also available to those who need them."

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