England

Couple forced to live in a tent in the woods because of Universal Credit

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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.

Tony Carson and Sue Rimington, along with their dog Buster, were forced to live in a tent for seven weeks after their Universal Credit payments took five weeks to come through (Picture: MirrorPix)

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.

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They only had their tiny two man tent and a couple of dumped sofas, and fashioned a small washing area.

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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.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 03: A Universal Credit sign in the window of the Job Centre in Westminster on May 3, 2016 in London, England. The Resolution Foundation, chaired by former Conservative Minister David Willets, has said the Government's benefit reform has "veered off track" due to cost-cutting. They say that 2.5 million families could be worse off, some by over ????3,000 a year. Universal Credit is a single payment and replaces six current benefits, including Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Their situation was made even worse when they were made homeless (Picture: Getty)

Tony, who has a heart problem, said: Before that we honestly believed there was a safety net for people like us.

Wed worked 80-hour weeks in our previous jobs. But there is no safety net with Universal Credit.

I dont know how we would have managed without Sue being a chef.

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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.

Universal Credit forced struggling couple to live in a tent in the woods

The couple delivered a petition to Theresa May about Universal Credit (Picture: PA)

Today, the couple delivered a petition to Downing Street urging Theresa May to listen to peoples problems with Universal Credit.

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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.

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