Universal Credit and financial abuse: exploring the links
Date Posted: Tuesday 12th June 2018
The Women’s Budget Group (WBG) scrutinises government policy from a gender perspective, and has been concerned about the gender implications of Universal Credit (UC) since its introduction[i]. This report highlights one aspect of the intersection between UC and financial abuse – the single payment.
UC contains other features which have implications for gender equality and for survivors of domestic abuse; for example:
- Combined with cuts to the work allowance, UC weakens incentives to enter employment or to earn more for many ‘second earners’ (often women).
- Whilst designating one partner as the lead carer in UC recognises caring for a child, this, together with the emphasis on getting one partner in workless families into paid work, can polarise a couple’s choices through assuming that one is the carer and the other the earner. This can create (different) pressures for both, including the non-lead carer feeling solely relied upon to meet conditions for all family[ii].
- Monthly assessment and payment, delays and waiting periods can particularly affect women in couples, as they are often the ‘shock absorbers’ of poverty, shielding their children from poverty, also reflecting structural factors associated with women’s economic dependence[iii].Rules that exempt survivors of domestic abuse from work-related conditionality are inconsistently applied and unavailable when the survivor is still living with an abusive partner[iv].
There are also wider social security issues affecting women and affecting domestic abuse survivors, outlined in section 9. Whilst this report focuses on the UC single payment specifically, the WBG is equally concerned about these wider issues and will be publishing material on them in the future.