We are seeing a number of women tell us that they are going back onto the streets because of cuts to Universal Credit. We know that women who are already street sex-working are often doing so out of poverty. Issues with debt are very much everyday.
From talking to workers this week, I know that some women are waiting six to eight weeks, some even longer. Being switched over from their existing benefits to Universal Credit creates a big problem for them, increasing the risk of them needing to find other ways to get money to live.
Not only this, but there are huge barriers for the women to access Universal Credit because the whole system is online. Many have low levels of literacy, often they don’t have ID or bank accounts and all of these things mean that the process of receiving the help that they need is long and extremely challenging.
In Bristol we are still early on in the process of the roll out of Universal Credit and I am deeply concerned that it will become a bigger problem for the women we work with in the coming months.
So I really welcome this look into the issue by ministers and the government because it’s affecting other people. And other people are disadvantaged but it‘s good that the focus is on women who are street sex-working. It’s being acknowledged.