Researchers warn that cutting Universal Credit by £20 a week, or more than £1,000 a year, would drag a further 760,000 people below the poverty line, with disabled people and working families the hardest hit.
The UK government increased the value of Universal Credit in response to the economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic.
But this ‘temporary’ boost is due to expire at the end of March and neither PM Boris Johnson or Chancellor Rishi Sunak have given any solid indication that the £20 a week raise will continue.
The Fabian Society says that at least half the cuts (£3.7bn) would fall on households where at least one adult is in work. A further 37% (£2.4bn) will hit non-working households where at least one adult is disabled.
The report ‘who loses?‘ finds that just 13% of the cuts, worth aroiund £800 million in real-terms, would fall on the shoulders of non-working or non-disabled households.
It comes at a time when many disabled people have already seen their incomes hit but cuts and changes to the social security system. Only 5% of those who would be pulled into poverty by the planmned cut to Universal Credit live in households where no one is working or disabled.
Andrew Harrop, General Secretary of the Fabian Society, said: “If ministers cut Universal Credit this April, they will overwhelmingly punish working families and disabled people.
“People in these groups have shown huge resilience during the pandemic and have done nothing to deserve this.
“The chancellor’s planned cut will strip £1,000 per year from six million families and plunge three quarters of a million people into poverty.
“Some politicians like to pretend that social security is just for the workshy.
“But the reality is that millions of working households need benefits and tax credits to make ends meet, as do disabled people who are out of work through no fault of their own.
“If ministers are considering a few months’ temporary extension to the Universal Credit uplift, that just isn’t good enough.
“The 2020 benefit increase must be placed on a permanent footing.”
Welfare Rights and Policy Officer at Disability Rights UK, Ken Butler said: “This new study is the latest in a long string of reports warning of the impact of cutting the £20 week UC uplift.
“The Work and Pensions Committee, bodies including the All Party Parliamentary Group for Poverty and the Women and Equalities Select Committee are all cross party groups who have forcefully called for the keeping and extending of the £20 per week uplift.
“In recent weeks a group of leading health and care bodies and the Trussell Trust have added their voices.
“The evidence is clear – removing the uplift will sweep hundreds of thousands of families into poverty or even destitution.
“Those on legacy benefits, which includes over two million Disabled people, were not even included in the uplift.
“The cost of extending the uplift is less than 3% of the £280 billion figure for total spending on Coronavirus support measures this year. It is a price that must be paid.”