London has come through the recession better than many parts of the country but so many of the jobs created are part-time, short term or zero hours contracts, creating great insecurity in the work place. In this climate no-one can be sure of staying in work continuously which is why we need a responsive benefits system.
Currently only Hammersmith in London is trialling Universal Credit but a recent report by the TUC set out what awaits future claimants.
At this time most people who lose their jobs have to wait two weeks before they get their first benefit payment; with Universal Credit this wait could be over five weeks, meaning that people could go into two months of rent arrears before they receive any cash support. According to the TUC's research over 40,000 Londoners could be hit by this but, according to YouGov polling fewer than one in seven people have heard about it.
While we should all save more (it is recommended that we should have savings that could cover three months of essential outgoings) it's not possible for many. I dread to think how many more people would be coming to MPs' surgeries if they had to wait over 5 weeks for help if they had fallen on hard times. People will risk losing their homes and getting into a spiral of debt, often prompting recourse to pay day lenders who make their situation a thousand times worse.
We need a responsive benefits system which can provide a safety net when things go wrong. Universal Credit, its roll out and its implementation is undermining that. The TUC has launched the 'Saving our Safety Net' campaign. You can find out more about this issue, sign the petition and get involved by visiting http://savingoursafetynet.org/