OLDHAM MP Debbie Abrahams has called for an “immediate end to the misery” caused by delays in Universal Credit payments.

The MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth called for a pause in the roll-out of Universal Credit after hearing first-hand accounts of people from her constituency who had been faced with eviction and being unable to feed their children because of delays in payments.

Within her speech at the Labour Party conference last month, Mrs Abrahams highlighted the experience of an Oldham nurse waited more than six weeks for a payment as she transferred to Universal Credit.

Speaking to The Oldham Times, the nurse, a single mum who wished to remain anonymous, said: “In May I completed my four-year degree and I was due to start work as a nurse in July.

“I was told that because my circumstances had changed I would need to move to Universal Credit while I waited to start my job.

“But I had to wait eight weeks for a payment and I was left with nothing. It meant I couldn’t pay all of my rent or feed myself and my child.

“I was in rent arrears and served with an eviction notice.

“I was so angry with the system that I took my daughter into the job centre and sat her on the desk and asked them how I could feed her without any money. Even though I had a job arranged and hadn’t even been paid, I was threatened with sanctions for not looking for work – it was outrageous.”

After finally getting her first payment she found she was only £1.72p better off a week by working after childcare costs and other deductions were made.

“It made me feel worthless, I’d worked hard to get a degree and get a better life for myself and my daughter but I ended up stressed, worried about the future and no better off, she said.

“I was lucky that I had a supportive family who have helped me through it and are helping now with childcare, but there will be thousands of people out there who will not be in the same position.

“I’d encourage the Government to go out and meet people who have been negatively affected by Universal Credit and hear their stories before they roll out this benefit to others.”

Mrs Abrahams’s described the situation the young nurse had faced as “shameful”.

Labour’s shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, said: “Her situation is appalling but unfortunately she is among many thousands of people across the UK who are being pushed into debt, rent arrears and even homelessness by the Government’s Universal Credit programme which includes a six-week wait for your first payment.

“It is incredible that the work and pensions secretary, David Gauke, is suggesting that people who have no money while they are waiting for their first UC payment can get a loan to make ends meet.

“Mr Gauke could and should immediately end the misery caused by the six week wait for payment of Universal Credit.”

Mrs Abrahams blasted the Government for refusing to delay the roll-out, adding: “This floundering Tory Government presses on despite the evidence that Universal Credit is causing debt, rent arrears, and homelessness up and down the country, with many of the claimants who are affected already in work.

“Housing Associations are saying that more than 80 per cent of rent arrears are down to UC and the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, is predicting rough sleeping will double in his region as a result of UC.

“With all the opposition and warnings about the dangers of continuing the national roll-out of UC, David Gauke can’t seriously still believe that the system is fit-for-purpose. “