Posted: 22.07.21 at 09:46 by James Mayer
Almost 11,000 people across Richmond are at risk of losing a ‘lifeline’ Universal Credit (UC) benefit.
This extra money has been available since March 2020, where claimants were able to gain £20-a-week on top of their UC to help with the pandemic’s financial impact.
Current government plans say the extra £20 will stop at the end of September.
Some 10,985 claimants of UC were in Richmond in May this year with 37 per cent of them in employment.
This is over double the number since pre-pandemic levels in February 2020 – when 4,537 were on UC.
The benefit system began in 2012, combining six benefits into one single payment model – which is designed to support those looking for work or who earn a low income.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed this temporary measure will be scrapped in the autumn, despite calls for it to become permanent.
The cut is likely to affect six million claimants in the UK and several former Conservative work and pensions secretaries have written to the Government asking for ministers to rethink the cut.
Former Department for Work and Pensions boss Sir Iain Duncan Smith , said the £20 cut could damage health, opportunities and living standards for families across the UK.
Iain Porter, Policy and Partnerships Manager for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation , an anti-poverty charity, said: “Social security should be a strong lifeline to protect families from harm and open up options when they hit hard times.
“It’s not too late for ministers to do the right thing by keeping the £20 increase to Universal Credit and extending it to legacy benefits.
“This would enable low-income families in and out of work to live with dignity rather than intensifying their hardship.”
Paul Spencer, from mental health charity Mind , said: “Too many people are already struggling to stay afloat with the current rate, so it’s appalling that the UK Government is planning to cut it at this time.
“We must keep the lifeline.”
A Government spokesperson said: “Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and we announced the temporary uplift as part of a £400 billion package of measures put in place that will last well beyond the end of the roadmap.
“Our focus now is on our multi-billion pound plan for jobs, which will support people in the long-term by helping them learn new skills and increase their hours or find new work.”
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