"One aspect of universal credit stress I didn't expect was the monthly routine of stress that quickly forms. I've been on universal credit for two payments thus far. For both the week of payment is the closest to relaxed I can be. The day of payment is a mixed blessing, before I even get out of bed I'm making my necessary bill payments for the month ahead on my phone, then I ring landlord to pay rent, then I place online food order. That day we also have a small takeaway, whatever is cheapest, heaven knows I need a break from cooking from time to time. I'm so tired most days, and relief is just as exhausting mentally as panic is. The next few days are the small thrill of deliveries. Food arrives, the fridge is full and hopes are high. I try to minimise waste and save every penny. But the facts are what once would have lasted a month now barely lasts a fortnight. By week two, as careful as I've been, we're often down to relying on the children's weekly child benefits to get our milk and basics. Then the countdown begins, first to the day when I will find out just how much I'm actually gonna great (this is what triggered my wanting to write this entry so I'll come back to it in a moment), then the anxious wait for the actual payment. The fears of 'what if it doesn't come through, what if its cancelled, what if they lied and won't send it' are hard to bare with a smile. For if someone on benefits ever complains about benefits they're shamed with 'be grateful for what you've got' and 'beggers can't be choosers' and 'it's your own fault you need benefits anyway' (when for most of us it's not). It's hellish. As for the waiting. About 3 or 4 days before payment is due, you can log into your universal credit online account and find out how much you will get. A statement. It states what you're entitled too, what's taken out for repayments and what will be received on the payment date. Waiting for this statement is horrid. My next one is due on Monday. Monday coming I will find out how much money I'll get to survive and provide for my children for another month. I don't know how much I'll get, I've no idea. I know what I'm meant to get, what the law states a woman of my age is worth, but I don't know what I will actually physically get. Last two statements I was deducted about £100 for repayment of the advance. The remaining money, after rent and bills, lasted two weeks. I think this month they'll start deducting for budgeting loans and the like. So I'll likely loose another £100-200 and I've no idea if or how much or when. I don't know if I'll be punished for not finding work or for not searching hard enough. I've no idea how to use the online system and am just told in bold letter, every time I login to the site 'wait for a call, we will call you' etc. How do I know that some buggered overworked person looks at my account and just decided, perhaps due to poor training, that I haven't done enough to earn the money I need to feed my children. Perhaps they have quotas to keep, or perhaps a wrong button gets pressed somewhere. When I was on income support I knew exactly what I got and when, I didn't have to wait for a statement. I wasn't scared of how much I'd have to feed my kids or pay my bills. If there were changes to my payments I'd receive a letter explaining when those changes took place and how long for and why, so I could plan. And if there was a glitch or 'human error' it wasn't a long wait for the next payment from the last, we'd not starve before the error was fixed. Now my stomach is in knots. I've been sick twice today through nerves alone. And I keep crying. And I still have the weekend to wait through. Before I find out how much we get.
And I've read in the news that new claiments for universal credit now get a two week one off payment 'to ease the transition', and I'm glad for those unknown persons. But it made me envious, and angry, and deeply sorrowed. I feel so sick with it all. I can't take the stress forever. I can't think, my emotions are a mess. I feel like I'm drowning.
Universal credit is torture. "