Hartlepool mother: 'Universal Credit forced me to turn to crime'
A mother said she was forced to turn to crime to survive after becoming trapped by Universal Credit's monthly payments.
The 38-year-old woman - who the Mail has decided not to name - accepts that she already had a criminal record and a heroin habit before a change in her personal circumstances saw her transferred to Universal Credit in 2017.
After receiving her first combined monthly payment, she said: "I felt like a millionaire and spent the lot more or less straight way on drugs.
"I'm over them now but even then it's a joke because you have to steal food from shops just to survive."
She said the thefts triggered an 11-month jail term as part of the terms of a previous suspended sentence for fraud.
The unemployed mother-of-two said she also nearly lost her home because she didn't have money to pay her rent.
A relative now ensures that the £300 monthly sum - "I told them to pay it direct to the landlord" - is transferred as soon as the monthly Universal Credit is paid.
While insisting that she is drug free, finished with crime and on time with her rent, she says she is still largely relying on the generosity of family, friends and Hartlepool Foodbank to survive.
She said: "Once the rent is gone, I get less than £200 to live on.
"Most of that goes to family and friends and that leaves me with around £30 to live on.
"It's just not enough and that's why I have to come to the foodbank where the help they give is tremendous.
"Sometimes you get extras like toiletries which they don't have to give and they even slipped Easter eggs in for the kids."
Her solution to the system's current problems? "Universal Credit be scrapped and the old system brought back.
"If they can't do that then they should go to fortnightly payments. Some people are able to get it so why not everyone?"