‘We’re needy, not greedy!’ Universal Credit cuts slammed as uplift end looms

Universal Credit: Reynolds says uplift ‘wrong thing to do’

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This increase to Universal Credit payments was introduced last year by the Government to support struggling households affected by the economic downturn resulting from the pandemic. Previously, this temporary uplift on Universal Credit was set to end on March 31, 2021 but was pushed back amid public pressure. However, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed in his 2021 Budget announcement that the increase would only last until the end of September.

According to the open letter’s main organiser, these cuts to Universal Credit by £20 per week in October will implement the largest “overnight cut” to benefits since the beginning of the welfare state after World War II.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation says this move would push 5.5 million families into unnecessary financial hardship.

One of the signatories of the letter, homelessness charity Centrepoint, has carried out further analysis into how the cuts will affect young Britons.

Centrepoint’s research found that young people are set to see a weekly cut of 25.2 percent of their Universal Credit standard allowance when the temporary uplift ends.

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One of the claimants who the charity supports, Zahra from West Yorkshire, is nervous about how the cut will affect her income and ability to pay the bills.

The 21-year old said: “I was shocked to hear about the end of the uplift. I still haven’t received any letter about it yet.

“It’s come at a really bad time for me because I’ve been applying for so many jobs and not even getting to the interview stage and I plan to start a part-time course at college to better my job opportunities.

“I rely on Universal Credit to pay for food, travel costs and all my bills.

“£20 may not be much for people who are working full time, but for young people who are unable to get a job and don’t have enough to pay all their bills and buy groceries, we’re really stressed about it.

“We’re needy, not greedy.”

Paul Noblet, the Government and Parliamentary Affairs Lead at Centrepoint, believes the cut will be extremely detrimental to the wellbeing of many young people across the country.

He said: “To go ahead with the planned cut to Universal Credit would be a devastating blow to thousands of vulnerable young people.

“The £20-a-week uplift has been a lifeline for many throughout the pandemic, especially young people facing huge youth unemployment and homelessness while relying on the benefits system.

“Taking this away could leave many choosing between bills and putting food on their tables. This isn’t a choice a young person – nor any person – should have to make.

“We strongly urge the government to reverse its decision, and to look carefully at how it can better support the many young people that continue to be affected by homelessness and rely on the benefits system.”

Centrepoint has primarily come out against the cuts as it “discriminates against claimants based on their age”, due to under 25s receiving much less in payments prior to the pandemic in the first place.

Ahead of the Commons’ vote on the proposed cut, Universal Credit claimants are set to descend on Westminster later today to urge Conservative MPs to keep the Universal Credit.

Members of the Unite Community will call on the Tory Government to “keep our families fed” before the Commons vote.

Steve Turner, Unite’s Assistant General Secretary, outlines that many of those receiving support from Universal Credit are already in work and will be pushed into further poverty with the Government’s decision.

He said: “Nearly 6million people, 40 percent of them in work, are about to lose £1,040 from their annual income, in what will be the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since the foundation of the modern welfare state.

“People, who rely on the benefit to get by, are telling us that this money is quite literally the difference between heating and eating.

“Our members have told us that the £20 isn’t paying for luxuries, but for food, children’s shoes, school uniforms and warm clothes.

“The chancellor must rethink his decision to cut the £20 a week income boost or he risks pushing six million people of which 2.2 million are already in jobs into poverty and debt overnight.”

The protest starts at 10:30AM at Old Palace Yard in Westminster.

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