A YOUNG mum has been forced to use a food bank to feed her son this Christmas after being paid nothing this month by Universal Credit.
Annalise Hooley, 20, was shocked to be told she wouldn't be getting any payments to feed her and one-year-old son Dennis Weall over the festive period.
Her problems stem from when she began a social work degree at Teesside University in September.
At the time she told the Department of Work and Pensions on more than one occasion about the student maintenance loan which she had received.
She said that her monthly payments did not change and for three months she used the loan to cover the cost of travel expenses, books and previous debts.
But just two weeks before Christmas, Annalise was told by the Department for Work and Pensions that she had been overpaid and would receive £ 0 to pay her bills over the festive period.
"It's just not fair! I just felt hopeless and I still do now," she said.
"I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't been able to access the food bank."
She slammed those running the Universal Credit system saying they “had no sympathy and no remorse. They didn't give me any help or advice”.
"I'm going to struggle over Christmas and New Year.
It's just not fair! I just felt hopeless and I still do nowAnnalise Hooley
"I had intentions of bringing my family to me and hosting my own Christmas dinner for the first time but I can't do that now. I don't know how I will be spending Christmas Day."
Annalise said that she is unable to get a loan from Universal Credit or borrow money from her family, who she says are “struggling themselves”.
She now fears that her gas and electricity will not last until she gets her next maintenance loan in January and she may need to stay with a friend.
The issues she has faced have made her question whether it is worth studying for a degree.
Annalise added: "I love helping people and I want to be a social worker for people with mental health issues.
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"It's always been a dream of mine to go to university. It makes you wonder if there is any point of me doing the degree if I am going to be struggling for the next three years."
A DWP said: "It is important that claimants share all relevant information related to their application at the earliest opportunity so we can ensure their payments are correct.
"Safeguards are in place to ensure repayments are affordable and we have recently announced that we will reduce the maximum amount that can be deducted from someone's Universal Credit claim."