In the early days of the pandemic, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £20 uplift, due to last for one-year, to Universal Credit payment to support households cope with the financial pressures brought about from the crisis. However, during his Budget announcement for 2021, Mr Sunak confirmed the uplift would be rolled back by the end of September as the economy reopens. Between the rising costs in energy bills and next year’s National Insurance hike, many organisations and charities are calling out the Government for discontinuing support when households need it the most.
The monthly standard allowances for Universal Credit is set to fall by a quarter for single claimants under 25, from £344 to £257.33.
The cut is set to reduce payments by a fifth for single claimants over 25, from £411.51 to £324.84.
According to a survey commissioned by the Food Foundation, 49 percent of families receiving Universal Credit admitted they will find it more difficult to put food on the table without the uplift.
Some 29 percent said it would be a little harder to make ends meet, which means around four in five households will struggle in the winter months without additional support from the DWP.
Previous polling by Save the Children/Opinium found a similar result, with 47 percent of Universal Credit claimants saying they will struggle to live if the £20 increase is removed.
MPs are scheduled to vote on the Universal Credit uplift cut in an Opposition Day debate.
Despite public opposition to the cut, including from campaigners such as Marcus Rashord, the Government has reiterated its commitment to removing the uplift.
Vikki, a Save the Children campaigner and single mum on Universal Credit, outlined her concerns about the pending cut to the Work and Pensions Committee last week.
She said: ‘There’s been months where I’ve had to decide which bill I’m not going to pay this month.’
Dan Paskins, Director of UK Impact at Save the Children, emphasised how much damage he believes the end to £20 uplift will have on many people in the UK.
Mr Paskins said: “Right now, struggling families are facing a perfect storm of rising costs and falling incomes with the end of furlough, increasing energy bills and now the planned National Insurance hike.
“For families already under pressure, the scheduled Universal Credit cut will be catastrophic.
“This time of year is often challenging, with parents having to pay more for heating, school uniforms and winter clothes, as well as preparing for Christmas.
“Parents we work with tell us that if the cut goes ahead they’ll have to turn to food banks to feed their families and that just paying for the basics will force them into a spiral of debt.
“Voices from across the political spectrum have warned of the devastating impact of this cut. Children are relying on ministers to listen to that advice and keep the £20 lifeline.”
Anna Taylor, Executive Director at The Food Foundation, outlined how the cut will exacerbate issues relating to food poverty in the country.
“All households should be able to afford to eat in a manner which protects their short and long-term health,” Ms Taylor explained.
“It’s extremely concerning that now even more children lack a secure, nutritious diet compared with last year.
“Our evidence clearly shows that decreasing Universal Credit payments by £20 will plunge many families who are already struggling to eat well into further hardship.
“This is at a time when applications for Universal Credit continue to rise, food costs have been going up and the end of furlough is looming.”
The cut to the £20 Universal Credit uplift is set to be complete by the middle of October.