A UNION survey found that more than 75 per cent of people on Universal Credit battled debt issues as a result of the new benefit.

The monthly payment, which combines six benefits, was introduced in Worcester over the last couple of months.

Unite Community said the national survey discovered that claimants were suffering from rent arrears and budgeting issues due to the benefit.

However, the Government rubbished the survey, describing it as 'unscientific'.

Shaun Pender, Unite Community coordinator for the West Midlands, said: "Universal Credit is causing misery and suffering as the survey results clearly show.

"Despite knowing this, the government is still intent on ploughing ahead regardless, while claimants are descending into debt, relying on food banks and getting into rent arrears and in some cases being evicted from their homes.

"Evidence from voluntary and community organisations as well as unions and local authorities seems to be ignored as the government presses on with the implementation of Universal Credit.

"Access to the benefit has been devised for the benefit of administrators, not the recipients of Universal Credit.

"The damage done by forcing people into debt, far from helping people into work as the government claims, is driving people away from the job market as spiralling debt impacts on people's mental and physical wellbeing."

Mr Pender added that many families will have a bleak Christmas because of the benefit.

1,141 people responded to the Unite survey between October and November.

A Unite spokesman added that claimants encountered rent arrears, raising fears about eviction, and problems with monthly budgeting.

They said disabled people reported a drop in income after moving onto the benefit.

However, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “This is a completely unscientific study, there is no guarantee that people responding are even receiving Universal Credit.

"Unlike this unscientific study, research conducted by an independent company shows the vast majority of people are satisfied with their experience of Universal Credit.”