You are here: Home - Household Bills - News -

MPs call for action on women driven to ‘survival sex’

Written by: Emma Lunn
Work and Pensions Committee calls for government action on the link between Universal Credit delays and “survival sex”.

The committee said the government had previously been “dismissive” of the issue but had now changed its position.

A number of women told the Work and Pensions Committee they turned to sex work because their benefits payments did not cover their basic needs.

The committee’s inquiry was driven initially by a committee member’s direct experience in their constituency. Specialist support organisations told him that problems with Universal Credit were pushing women into survival sex.

“Survival sex” is when people (mostly, but not exclusively, women) have to turn to sex work to meet their basic survival needs, including money, food, shelter or clean clothes.

The Work and Pensions Committee said the five-week wait for people’s first payment is often why people say they are forced to exchange sex to meet their needs.

The committee heard from one woman who said she had been forced to perform sex acts on a shop manager in exchange for food, due to a lack of benefit payments.

The committee accused the Department for Work and Pensions of having “largely ignored these personal, frontline testimonies” in its initial response to the link, before starting a full inquiry.

Frank Field MP, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “The women who gave evidence to us were courageous enough to share some enormously difficult and distressing experiences, in the hope of helping us and the department to better understand this issue.”

Welcoming the “public acknowledgement” by minister Will Quince his department had “got it wrong”, a report by the committee said the DWP has shown a “pattern of unwillingness to engage with frontline evidence about the impact of its reforms”.

The committee is demanding the Department for Work commission a full review on improving services for claimants who turn to survival sex. MPs also demanded the DWP cut the five-week wait for payment and properly evaluate people’s lived experience on Universal Credit.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We take all evidence presented to the Committee very seriously and are extremely concerned to hear of these experiences. We are determined to ensure that no one finds themselves in this position and are committed to providing a safety net for the most vulnerable in society.

“Improvements have been made to Universal Credit such as extending advances, removing waiting days, and introducing housing benefit run on, and we are carefully considering the report’s recommendations.”

There are 0 Comment(s)

If you wish to comment without signing in, click your cursor in the top box and tick the 'Sign in as a guest' box at the bottom.

Coronavirus and your finances: what help can you get in the second lockdown?

News and updates on everything to do with coronavirus and your personal finances.

The savings accounts paying the most interest

If one of your jobs this month is to get your finances in order, moving your savings to a higher paying deal i...

Everything you need to know about being furloughed

If you’ve been ‘furloughed’ by your company, here’s what it means…

What will happen if rates change

How your finances will be impacted by a rise in interest rates.

Regular Savings Calculator

Small regular contributions can build up nicely over time.

Online Savings Calculator

Work out how your online savings can build over time.

Having a baby and your finances: seven top tips

We’re guessing the Duchess of Cambridge won’t be fretting about maternity pay or whether she’ll still be...

Protecting family wealth: 10 tips for cutting inheritance tax

Inheritance tax - sometimes known as 'death tax' - can cause even more heartache for bereaved families. But th...

Travel insurance: Five tips to ensure a successful claim

Ahead of your summer holiday, it’s important to make sure you have the right level of travel cover or you co...

Money Tips of the Week

Read previous post:
£1bn deal set to solve poor mobile coverage

The government and four big mobile networks pledge £1bn to banish rural “not-spots”.