A couple claim they have been forced to live in a tent in the woods after Universal Credit pushed them into poverty.
Sue Rimington, 52, and her partner Tony Carson, 50, had previously worked 18-hour a week jobs as a chef and web designer, but lost their jobs following serious health issues.
They went to the Jobcentre in Fulford Ings near York, only to find out they were living in a Universal Credit area, and had to wait five weeks before receiving any payment.
The wait pushed them from struggling to destitute, reports The Mirror, and they were not able to keep up with payments to live in the hostel they were staying in.
The couple, along with their rescue dog Buster, were forced to move into a tent in nearby woodland, where they spent seven weeks during one of the hottest summers on record.
They only had their tiny two man tent and a couple of dumped sofas, and fashioned a small washing area.
But they had no running water and had to trek more than a mile to get something to drink in the heat.
Sue said: ‘The heat really got to us. We struggled with water. The nearest free tap at a local community allotment was a mile away, so it was a long way to carry what we needed.’
For food, they relied on the discount aisle and when things got even worse, they foraged for something to eat.
Tony, who has a heart problem, said: ‘Before that we honestly believed there was a safety net for people like us.
‘We’d worked 80-hour weeks in our previous jobs. But there is no safety net with Universal Credit.
‘I don’t know how we would have managed without Sue being a chef.
‘She was able to recognise all sorts of things we could forage, and make meals from that and stuff from the reduced aisle.’
They say they saw other people eating raw mussels from the river because they were so desperate for something to eat, and that once they were homeless things got worse when their mobile phones ran out of charge.
This, combined with having no address, meant they were at risk of missing messages from the authorities.
Today, the couple delivered a petition to Downing Street urging Theresa May to listen to people’s problems with Universal Credit.
They delivered it on behalf of the End Hunger UK campaign – a network that includes Church Action on Poverty, the Church of England, the Trussell Trust, the Independent Food Aid Network and Child Poverty Action Group.
More than 18,000 people have signed it, many of them foodbank users.
Thankfully, the couple have since be rehoused, but are still struggling to cope with their low income.
Sue has recently had surgery on her back, so it still off work, and Tony is still waiting for an assessment of his heart condition.