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Universal credit 'will destroy people'

A small number of benefit claimants in Greater Manchester will start to receive the new "universal credit" from today.

Ministers say it marks the beginning of a fundamental cultural shift in the welfare system, but critics have raised concerns about the computer system and the switch to a single monthly payment.

The pilots start today in Ashton-under-Lyne.

The Today programme's Justin Webb discussed the new system with some of those directly affected by the changes: Derek O'Neil was a builder but is now on disabled benefits, Susan Daniels owns a bridal shop and she has been on benefits, and Stephen Peel is a landlord with social housing tenants.

Derek O Neill says that many people will not be able to cope with the credit system.

"It's going to destroy people," he said, "to be given that money and to be trusted to pay their rent and other bills... it's not going to happen."

"Twelve months ago I was at rock bottom and for that I dabbled in all sorts of things culminating in taking everything in one go," he added.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday 29 April 2013.

  • 29 Apr 2013
  • From the section UK