its real-life perils are now being fully exposed

  • Post last modified:March 14, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Universal Credit is once again in the spotlight – but this time, in an unusual way. This is because a stage play deals with what it calls the “perils” of the benefit – and it looks set to pull no punches over the controversial subject.

The Perils of Universal Credit

The Perils of Universal Credit is a stage play by Sharron Spice. It looks at the real-world impacts of the benefit. The production company said of the play:

A drama set in modern day London, Sandra Smith – a working professional – reveals the true challenges and pitfalls of Universal Credit when her contract runs out in the city and she is seeking employment.

Whether you’re affected directly or simply interested in learning more, this production is for you as it raises awareness, educates, creates debate, and raises many questions. Based on true accounts this woman’s story should activate change.

Performed by the Elicit Theatre Company, the cast Includes: Kofi Sampaney, Michelle Gray, and Spice. It is holding a one-off performance in London at the Viblast Centre, 167 Old Street, EC1V 9NH on Saturday 27 April. You can book tickets here:

The Perils Of Universal Credit has already had some success. Originally performed in 2019, Spice also took it to parliament. It was there to raise awareness among MPs.

Universal Credit as a subject for a play is a pertinent and important choice – given it has been one of the biggest, and arguably disastrous, government policy decisions in modern times.

A tragic tale of government abuse, prejudice, and human rights violations

The Canary has documented the scandals surrounding Universal Credit for years. Here are some of its biggest ones:

On top of this, the UN found in 2016 that the DWP and successive governments had committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of chronically ill and disabled people’s human rights. It is now investigating the government again.

So, The Perils Of Universal Credit has a huge back catalogue of terrible stories to tell.


Spice based the play in part on her own real-life experiences of Universal Credit. She told BBC News that it left her with:

Low self esteem, and a little bit ashamed because you can’t afford to feed yourself. So, you’re reliant on.. foodbanks… to support you with food. Food is a basic necessity. But it was people from across the board [at the foodbank]. People that were working, people that were single parents, families, single men… all queuing up. I found it quite Victorian.

So, after that experience I decided to write a play… I thought it was important to get the story out there… and change the perception of what a benefit claimant is… Anyone can find themselves… [reliant] on the benefit system.

As the Canary previously wrote:

Universal Credit sanctions low paid workers who aren’t doing enough to get more work; penalises lone parents; cuts free school meals; reduces support for disabled people with severe impairments. And, by design, it encourages people’s reliance on charity – note the rise of food banks.

Universal Credit’s history shows why… it cannot be ‘fixed’.

The Perils Of Universal Credit should expose all of this. It looks set to be a groundbreaking play that people with or without lived experience of the benefits system will be able to appreciate.

Featured image via the Canary

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