A GOVERNMENT department has defended the affects of Universal Credit on people on benefits.

There are concerns that people using Barrow Foodbank might be more affected as people claiming state benefits are moved onto Universal Credit in December.

Bosses at the foodbank were concerned that the practical demands of the change over would be difficult for vulnerable people to handle.

Ann Mills, Barrow Foodbank manager feared that people with mental health difficulties would find it difficult to respond to letters from the DWP, which may cause delays in people accessing funds.

Barriow MP John Woodcock has been critical of the transition and the foodbank is already under significant pressure thanks to a 31 per cent increase in food demand and they are expecting to see even greater rises over the winter.

However, a spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “The reasons why people use food banks are complex, so it’s wrong to link a rise to any one cause.

“Universal Credit (UC) replaces an out-of-date, complex benefits system with cliff edges that disincentivise work and often trapped people in unemployment.

“Under UC, evidence shows people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the old system.

“Through our ‘test and learn’ approach, we have listened to feedback from stakeholders and claimants and made improvements, including increasing advances to 100 per cent, removing the seven-day waiting period and paying people’s Housing Benefit for two weeks while they wait for the first UC payment.”

The DWP also added: “We continue to spend around £90billion a year supporting people who need it, including those who are out of work or on a low income.”