YOUNG mum Asia Freeman has been caught up in a Universal Credit nightmare after accidentally clicking the wrong button when she made her online application.

The 21-year-old was on income support, which left her with just £70 every two weeks after deductions to make ends meet.

She wanted to start working as a care assistant but said she was told she would be worse off if she remained on the same benefit and was advised to convert to the new one.

However after she became confused during the application process she found she was going to be paid half what she expected.

“I was left with no money for three months and now I’m in £900-worth of rent arrears,” she said. “Now I’m receiving eviction notices. I’m still not clear on what I’m supposed to be receiving and what is going where.

“It has put me in such a downward spiral I have had to go to the food bank and it is not a nice experience.”

Last month it was revealed that 826 council tenants on UC were behind with the rent. Asia, of Curtis Street, made her application in November and mistakenly clicked the button indicating she didn’t pay her rent. She was confused because she was on housing benefit at the time and it was paid direct. She later realised she should have indicated she did pay rent, but by then it was too late and the rent element of her new benefit was cut out.

“I misunderstood the question because I have been receiving housing benefit from the day I moved in two years ago,” she explained.

Since then she has been trying to clear up the error and this month she was told by the council the rent element would be included in her payment. But she still faces rent arrears and because her payment has not been backdated yet, she has also built up debts with utilities providers.

On January 20 she received £400, half of what she was expecting. “I had three months of bills to pay and I had to put £250-£300 aside for that.”

She cancelled her TV licence for three months and at one point had to go to the food bank to ensure she and daughter Mikayla, two, had enough to eat.

Asia, who is hoping to train as a nurse, is desperate to get back on her feet and is currently working with debt charity Step Change to sort her finances out.

“My family has been helping me for two years because I have been living on £70,” she said.

“I need to be able to look after myself but it is almost impossible.

“I’m desperate to be more independent. But I feel like I’m walking on a treadmill and I’m not getting anywhere.”

She added: “What they don’t tell you is that when you go for UC you are automatically in rent arears. If you want to switch to UC put some money in a savings account if you can, although I know a lot of people don’t have that ability.

“I am very lucky that I have a lot of support. I don’t know how people cope when they don’t have that.”

She added: “There are so many people going through what I’m going through.”