A homeless former pub landlord has slammed Universal Credit as the "worst thing in the world" on a new documentary on the Tories' hated benefit.

Declan, 47, has gone from running a pub and working in construction most of his life to sleeping in a park and says: "You are one pay cheque away from the gutter.

Viewers of BBC 1's Universal Credit: Inside the Welfare State, which began tonight and focused on the Job Centre in Peckham, London, watched Declan's harrowing struggle to find some support to help him get back into work and off the streets.

Viewers first find Declan having been unemployed for eight months and sleeping rough for two weeks, with no money in the bank and 19 days left until his next Universal Credit payment.

The night before he awoke in a park to two people rummaging through his bag and went to sleep in a train station instead.

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Declan tells the cameras 'how they mighty have fallen'

Crying, he admits: "I didn't think I'd find myself unemployed and on the streets age 47.

"If I didn't laugh I'd cry."

He receives £262 a month after money is deducted to pay back two advances he received during the initial-five week wait for the first Universal Credit hand-out he faced after being made redundant.

He had worked in the pub trade and construction all his life.

He ran a pub 20 years ago, and showed cameras the house where his son was born.

Without a base it's almost impossible to get work
Declan is close to tears in the Job Centre

"How the mighty have fallen," he added, before showing cameras the park in which he will be sleeping that night.

"It's not from lack of trying to get a job. I had my CSCS card and sent out 15 applications every day, just to get a labouring job. That's even hard now.

"You are one pay cheque away from the gutter.

"If you've got no place to stay, no base, you're shot. As you get older it doesn't get any easier."

He says Universal Credit is the 'worst thing'
Declan finds the regime 'embarrassing' and like the Government has a hold on his life

The capable former pub landlord and construction worker manages to find temporary accommodation with the help of Job Centre staff, but is faced with six days without electricity, a microwave or even furniture.

Staff tell him he cannot apply for a living allowance and must wait for his next payment and when he does get paid repayments from his advances will automatically be taken from his money.

He tells his Job Centre worker: "Universal Credit is the worst thing in the world.

The show also features Peckham Job centre front of house staff member Karen
Peckham Job centre work coach Malcolm

"It feels like they have got a hold of your life. The Government have got you by the cojones."

Applying for a foodbank voucher just so he can eat, he tells the cameras it's "embarrassing, makes you feel like you are begging."

Meanwhile staff at the foodbank admit that 80% of the people they help are on Universal Credit.

Earlier, Declan tells the cameras: "I don't want to be on this Universal Credit, I want to take a wage home every week, live a little. Just pay my way. Get a job, get a place, earn my own money. Not be a burden to anyone, not on the state or anyone else, just myself.

"It just gives you a bit more pride in yourself, that's all it is."

Elsewhere in the show, NHS worker Rachel was left penniless when she was gave up work and faced a five-week benefit wait.

And it was revealed that the rollout of the Tories' hated Universal Credit benefits shake-up has been delayed yet again - until 2024.

Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan and Labour leadership candidate said tonight: “For too long the benefits system has been designed from the top-down and the Tories have shown little regard for the brutal reality facing those who need it. Too many people end up destitute and in despair at the hands of a system that is supposed to help them. Universal Credit should be scrapped and rebuilt with the people it should be supporting.

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“Universal Credit is a failure yet the Tories can't bring themselves to admit that they are part of the problem. It is time for a different approach which allows the people who rely on the state for help, with the expertise of advocacy groups, to change it for the better.

"From the outset Universal Credit has been beset by problems. Payment delays, underfunding and a lack of humanity in the system has led to a huge surge in demand for foodbanks. This simply is not good enough.”