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Universal Credit nearly made Devon woman homeless

Ann had an eviction notice put under her door while she waited for Universal Credit Photo: ITV West Country

A Big Issue vendor from Newton Abbot has described how an eight-week wait for her Universal Credit payment nearly left her homeless.

Ann Warke started selling the magazine in Exeter after losing her job.

It took nearly two months for payments to start coming in, and now says she fears some making a claim on the Government's controversial new benefits system could end up sleeping rough.

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Figures from the charity Shelter suggest more than eight million people in the UK are only one pay cheque away from not being able to pay their rent or mortgage.

Ann has never had to sleep rough but earlier this year, despite working all her life, she came really close to being homeless.

You lose your job, you then claim Universal Credit and you're told that it will take 8 weeks for your claim to be processed and then they ask you if you have any friends and family that will help you pay your rent and your bills, which I don't my family is not that wealthy and then you are given the option that you can have a loan off them which you then pay back once you get your claim through which then takes a quarter of the money away from you that they were going to give you anyway.

– Ann Warke, Big Issue vendor

The Department of Work and Pensions says the maximum wait for Universal Credit has been reduced to 5 weeks from lodging a claim.

It says claimants can get an interest free advance to cover the period before they receive their first payment and the rate at which they have to pay it back is decided on by discussions between the claimant and their benefits advisor.

Working as a vendor is not only paying Ann's bills, it's also helping rebuild her nerve and getting her back into the working world.

In the first of our three-part series we meet on big issue vendors and find out how they came to selling the magazine.

You can watch the full story with Claire Manning here:

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