The Department for Work and Pensions is facing backlash after a Universal Credit claimant appeared to be left with a paltry £5.82 for the month after being docked more than £300 in sanctions.
A post circulated on social media by Manchester-based food bank Barakah Food Aid appears to show a letter leaving an unidentified claimant with the meagre allowance.
The letter reads: “If you have trouble making your money last for the month, you can ask for help with budgeting.”
A member of the Barakah Food Aid team told HuffPost UK that the document had been passed on by a “fed up” employee at the department, who wished to remain anonymous.
It is not clear what the sanctions are in this case.
A message posted on Facebook by the organisation, read: “We’ve been sent a copy of this letter via a friend who works with a government agency that helps with the process and issues of Universal Credit. The individual who sent it is absolutely angry at the way the system is currently set up.
It added: “How can you expect anyone to survive on this?
“This is happening to do many up and down the country, this is real life for many people. This is what sanctions do and this is what Universal Credit is doing to people in this country.
“The government should be ashamed of itself. We are ashamed of you ‘running’ this country, running it into the ground just so you and your friends can profit from the clean up of the mess you’ve created.”
We've been sent a copy of this letter via a friend who works with a government agency that helps with the process and issues of Universal Credit. The individual who sent it is absolutely angry at the way the system is currently set up.— Barakah Food Aid (@BarakahFoodAid) June 24, 2019
£5.82 to last a whole calender month. pic.twitter.com/46LqrPXmc9
The letter – posted on the organisation’s Twitter and Facebook page – was met with condemnation, and had been shared more than 4,000 times on Facebook by Tuesday afternoon.
Many people complained that they had found themselves in a similar situation, after they had missed appointments.
“Can you get them for budget advice and and put it up so we can see what they say would love to see how they can make a fiver last a month,” commented Gary Foster.
Jennifer Roberts wrote: “I would love to see a Member of Parliament manage on £5.82 for the month even after help with budgeting they love on another planet.”
“My son too had letters like this, he unfortunately missed an appointment at the job centre, went on the wrong day,” wrote Martin Fletcher.
“His fault admittedly, but this was how he was treated, he phoned to explain and apologise, but it made no difference.”
A sanction is usually a reduced payment given if someone receiving Universal Credit fails to honour their Claimant Commitment, according to government guidelines.
This can include missing appointments, failing to apply for a job when told to do so, or not attending a training course.
There are four levels of sanctions: higher, medium, low and lowest, the government says.
The DWP said in a statement: “We can’t look into this case without more details, so are unable to say whether or not they receive any other income or benefits.
“We continue to pay the housing, disability and child support elements of Universal Credit even when someone is sanctioned.
“Sanctions are only ever used as a last resort when someone fails to fulfil their benefit commitments, and they affect fewer than 3% of all Universal Credit claimants.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.