Universal Credit is not enough to live on is a key finding of a study into Universal credit in Glasgow.

The research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation by researchers at Glasgow University and Poverty Alliance interviewed people on the benefit and Jobcentre staff who deal with claimants.

Those who are on the benefit spoke of rent arrears, poverty and difficulty applying.

And staff told how some people cannot cope.

One DWP staff member said: “There must be some poor souls out there. We had to help with a few people down in [area in Glasgow], and their stories, when they eventually actually came into the office, were horrific .

“It was the housing office that got in touch with us to say that this individual’s living in a hovel and eating out of cold tins and and even stuff that they’ve scraped from bins. There must be I don’t know whether it’s hundreds or whatever, individuals out there that haven’t, because of the digital side of things and because a lot of them have heard about Universal Credit, haven’t made an attempt to claim anything, and you know, as a human being that actually worries me.”

While some people said they found applying online easy and straightforward many had problems and said they needed face to face contact.

The main findings was on the initial wait for a first payment which was described as a “financial shock”.

Using foodbanks, missing a rent payment,long term rent arrears and debt were all attributed the five week wait.

One man, Ross, said he was receiving £59.50 a week, due to deductions for a Universal Credit advance payment and a budgeting loan. .

Ross said “See the moment I got put onto Universal Credit and then my money was stopped for five weeks, and then I was on this different system, I ended up in debt because I wasn’t able to put the money into the meter that I used to put in because my money had been slashed basically.”

The research found claimants “felt so afraid of hunger and rent arrears that they felt they had no choice but to take an advance payment, despite anxiety over how to repay it”.

However, it then led to reduction in monthly payments, creating long term hardship.

One woman, Anna, said: “It’s a huge amount of money [advance payment deduction] when you’re living on very little.”

Another, Natalie, said: “It was a good sum of money, but now, it’s hard trying to budget. Because they take £120 and then I’ve got bills coming off that. So, I’m only left with about £300 to last a month.”

The report states: “The underlying issue was that payments were usually not enough to cover the basic costs of living. Virtually no participants reported that their Universal Credit payment lasted them to the end of the month. Most interviewees said that they put their rent first and then struggled to manage other living costs between payments.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “More than 63,000 people, either unemployed or on low wages, are supported by the welfare safety net provided by Universal Credit in Glasgow.

“They have benefited from a wide range of changes including £6.5 billion extra welfare support during this pandemic.

“As part of this we’ve increased Universal Credit by up to £1,040 per year and advances are available meaning no one has to wait for a payment.”