Earlier this month the Women's Budget Group attended a Parliamentary drop-in on Universal Credit and Financial Abuse organised by Dr Philippa Whitford MP to promote the Private Members Bill she had raised on the issue. We were joined by Women’s Aid, Surviving Economic Abuse and the Child Poverty Action Group to share our concerns about how people could be trapped in abusive relationships by the decision to pay Universal Credit entitlements to one member in a household. A number of prominent MPs attended the drop-in and we were able to issue them with a copy of our briefing as well as talk to them about the issue in more detail.
Our main concerns are that:
- The default system of paying Universal Credit as a single monthly payment to a couple can give abusive partners further opportunities to exert financial control over their partners.
- Having split payments as an ‘exception’ rather than a rule puts survivors in the position of having to disclose financial abuse and to manage the consequences of the abuser finding out.
- Financial abuse entails reducing a partner’s access to money and resources, and sabotaging work efforts. It has been estimated to affect as many as one in five adults, making it harder for a survivor to leave an abusive relationship.
While opinions on Universal Credit roll out are mixed, we hope that the Government will consider making the simple and inexpensive change to pay Universal Credit to individual members of a household.
You can read more about this, and download a copy of our Universal Credit and financial abuse briefing via the WBG website.