Monday 02 August, 2021

Universal Credit cut risks plunging half a million more people into poverty

Families fear that a forthcoming £20 a week cut would leave them unable to afford food or pay bills.

According to national poverty charity Turn2us, over half (46 percent) of people in families receiving Universal Credit or Tax Credits are concerned that the forthcoming £20 cut would impair their capacity to purchase food.

The research’s release kicks off a three-month countdown to the reduction, which would see Universal Credit recipients lose £20 per week in payments.

If this crucial connection is severed in September, half a million people, including 200,000 children, might be thrown into poverty overnight.

Concerns are widespread among the five million households receiving Universal Credit and one million receiving working tax credits; nearly one in two (44 percent) will struggle to pay bills, one in three (29 percent) are unsure whether they will be able to continue paying their rent or mortgage, and one in five (20 percent) will fall into debt.

The research also shows that the planned cut is already having a devastating impact on mental health, with 47% of those who took part part in the study experiencing anxiety, 32% experiencing depression, 30% are experiencing loss of sleep, and 46% are experiencing stress about the cut.

A recent public attitudes survey found that 59 per cent of British househols want the £20 a week uplift to be made permanent.

Thomas Lawson, Chief Executive at Turn2us, said: “A decade of caps, cuts and freezes to the UK’s social security payments has left it one of the least generous in Europe.

“Many of us already struggle to pay for the bare essentials. If the government forges ahead with its cut to Universal Credit, it could plunge many more into hunger and debt.

“It’s just not right that families are left unable to afford to put food on their tables and are having to turn to food banks so they and their children don’t go hungry.

“We urge the government to not just keep the £20 benefit increase, but to make it permanent and extend it to legacy benefits.

“Failure to do will have a detrimental impact on people’s lives and livelihoods – and their ability to contribute to our recovery.”

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