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A nine year old girl made a heart-breaking phone call to a charity to beg for work so that she could help her family out after delayed Universal Credit payments left her jobless father without any money.
The child told a charity worker that her mother had died and that her dad had recently lost his job working as a lorry driver in Torbay, Devon.
The family had been left struggling to make ends meet and without much food in the house after her father was made to wait five weeks for his first Universal Credit payment to be made.
The unnamed girl called Humanity Torbay - a charity set up to provide aid and food banks for the people of the area - and offered to perform tasks such as cleaning up and making beds so that she could contribute to her family.
The charity's CEO, Ellie Waugh, said that she was reduced to tears by the girl's plight and said that the child also offered to "do anything I can so I can buy my brother and sister a Christmas present", according to reports in The Mirror.
Waugh said: "I can't tell you how horrendous it was hearing a child beg for work in this day and age.
"She told me, 'I don't mind cleaning floors, making beds. My daddy has always worked, and he says you have to work to get things. I'll do anything I can, so I can buy my brother and sister a Christmas present.
"I can cook, and I don't mind working on a Saturday and Sunday or after school.' After the call I just cried. Hearing that is like we've gone back to Victorian times."
The girl is one of three children being cared for by their single father following the death of their mother four years ago. Waugh called the girl's father after speaking to her and reassuring her that she wouldn't have to go to work.
Waugh continued: "He cried because he was embarrassed but because he is proud of her. Proud that she loved her brother and sister so much she wanted to help them.
"He said they were literally down to their last few bits in the freezer."
The girl's father also said: "I'm very proud of my daughter and horrified I've been reduced to this. It's humbling that people want to help us."
The charity made sure that some of their volunteers made it to them that evening with some food.
Universal Credit is a controversial new benefits system that replaced six other benefits for those who are unemployed or on low income.
Waugh said that she has invited the minister for work and pensions, Esther McVey, to come down and visit, but so far has received no response.
She added: "I want them to see the reality of what Universal Credit is doing, to see the look of 'no hope' in people's eyes when they come asking for food."
A spokesperson from the Department of Work and Pensions said: "We will look into this case urgently. No one has to wait for support if they need it before their first Universal Credit payment. Advances have increased to up to 100% and we are paying housing benefit for an additional 2 weeks when people move onto Universal Credit.
"We have listened to concerns about Universal Credit delivery and funding, and in response have announced a £4.5 billion cash boost. We will be increasing the amount people can earn on Universal Credit by £1,000 before their payment begins to be reduced and we are providing a 'run-on', worth on average £200, to claimants moving onto the system to ensure a smooth transition.
They continued: "We also recently announced a £39 million partnership with Citizens Advice to provide Universal Support, which will help people make and manage their Universal Credit claim."
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