According to the Evening Standard, a UN report warns how millions of the worlds poorest and most marginalised people are being deprived of help from the social security systems designed to protect them.
During the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, 280,000 to 390,000 people wrongly thought they were ineligible for Universal Credit. This may have forced many into financial hardship.
Reasons for why people chose not to apply for social security help included: a lack of awareness, eligible individuals being missed off government databases, and complex and humiliating application processes.
The UN report concluded that the “substantial levels of non-take up” may have been caused by stigma.
The report recommends to government officials to simplify their application services, utilising outreach strategies and strengthening in person services. It also recommends monitoring and investigations into any low levels of uptake across the benefit schemes.
The UK’S Department for Work and Pensions claims to produce estimates of non-take ups for some income-related benefits, but does do so for Universal Credit.
Oliver De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights stressed of “intolerable consequences” from the low uptake of these benefit schemes.
He said: “Governments have a duty not just to provide social protection on paper, but to ensure individuals are aware of and can access – the benefits to which they are entitled”.