Laura Sharman 19 March 2019

MPs to investigate link between Universal Credit and ‘survival sex’

Reports that increasing numbers of people are being forced to exchange sex to meet basic needs due to welfare reforms are to be investigated by MPs.

The Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into the link between welfare reforms such as Universal Credit and the rise of ‘survival sex’.

The Committee has identified that higher sanctions, the wait for the first payment, and the accumulation of debt has made it harder for claimants to meet survival needs.

‘We have heard sufficient evidence, and are sufficiently worried, to launch this inquiry to begin to establish what lies behind the shocking reports of people being forced to exchange sex to meet survival needs,’ said Frank Field, chair of the Committee.

‘This is an investigation, and we do not yet know what we will uncover. But if the evidence points to a direct link between this kind of survival sex and the administrative failures of Universal Credit, ministers cannot fail to act.’

The Committee is calling for evidence on what features of Universal Credit may drive people into ‘survival sex’, how widespread the problem is, and what changes could be made to Universal Credit to tackle this problem.

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