A TALE OF TWO CITIZENS Universal Credit puts chaos into lives hit by debts, sanctions & council house demolition

22 May 2017


Universal Credit adds to risks of ill health puts chaos into lives already hit by debts, sanctions & council house demolition  

The link between low income and debt with mental and physical illness is undeniable. 

I am currently working with and for two single men. One of them has been transferred to the Universal Credit (UC) and works for an agency. He has not had any work for two months plus one month when he got £0.01 from UC. He suffers from depression. The other is on a zero hours contract. He has had neither income nor work for five weeks. He suffers from heart and kidney failure.

The first should receive £317 a month after housing costs but has rent and council tax arrears hung over from a previous three month sanction. The second should receive £73.10 a week.  They are the same £73.10 x 12/52=£317 and they have been losing value since 1979. 

They are both being chased by Haringey Council for Council Tax. The first has been told to apply for council tax benefit on line by the council, but neither he nor I could access the council web site. The second has now had £115 court costs and baliffs added their £310 fees for a visit to his home to collect the tax. 

The first has been moved out of a council estate which will be demolished to make room for a posh walkway from a new White Hart Lane Station to the new Spurs stadium. The second lives in another council estate which is threatened with demolition. 

Haringey Council intends both demolitions will be undertaken by the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) to be owned by the Council and Lend Lease 50/50. Lend Lease is an international property development  company. The council is handing £2bn of taxpayers assets to the HDV. The campaign opposing demolition is called the Two Billion Pound Gamble,  which please like. 

The Two Billion Pound Gamble is not only a gamble with taxpayers assets, it is also a gamble with the residents lives.  

The link between low income and debt with mental and physical illness is undeniable. 

That cause of ill health is exacerbated by ever increasing housing costs taking more and income needed for food, water, fuel, clothes transport and other necessities; hence food banks. To the stress of inadequate incomes and unmanageable debts, Haringey Council intends to add the grief, stress and disturbance to children's education of moving house and then share the profits with Lend Lease. 

In the London Borough of Haringey life expectancy in the most deprived wards of Tottenham is seven years shorter than in the richer wards of Highgate. It is up to 20 years shorter than in the wealthy wards of Kensington and Chelsea. In 2015 there was an unprecedented UK rise in infant and adult deaths and more people than ever were admitted to hospital with malnutrition. The forecast is that the already inadequate incomes after housing costs of the poorest will fall by up to 16% by 2020 and for the already very wealthy will rise by 4%.

Neither national nor local government care about these things.



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David Finch - Resolution Foundation,

Dr Angela Donkin – Institute of Health Equity

Professor Richard Wilkinson –  Equality Trust

Professor Kate Pickett –, Equality Trust

Maddy Power –  University of York

Carl Walker –  University of Brighton

Rev Paul Nicolson –  Taxpayers Against Poverty

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