THE government will axe a £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit from September, despite pleas to continue to support struggling families.
Extra support for Universal Credit claimants, worth £20 a week, was first launched at the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020.
Initially the benefits uplift was meant to last a year but Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the extra Universal Credit payments in the March Budget for six months.
Minister for welfare delivery Will Quince yesterday confirmed his "expectation" is that the boost "will end once our economy has opened".
Speaking in the House of Commons, he said estimates that the £20 cut will push thousands of families below the poverty line were "purely speculative".
Quince said: "Projecting the impact of an individual policy on poverty levels is complex and inherently speculative.
"It is difficult to isolate the specific impact of one policy and determine its effect on how many people fall below the poverty threshold, which itself changes over time."
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit
IF you’re experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don’t cover costs, here are your options:
- Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it's a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit payout.
- Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.
- Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the Government for emergency household costs of up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You'll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You'll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
- Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax by applying for a Council Tax Reduction. Alternatively, you might be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments to help cover your rent.
- Foodbanks – If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.
However, the increase has been described as a "lifeline" for struggling families, worth an extra £1,040 a year.
Poverty charity Turn2Us today said the removal of uplift could see 500,000 people "pulled into poverty overnight".
Almost half of adults on Universal Credit or Tax Credits are worried that the upcoming £20 cut will affect their ability to afford food, according to the research.
Of the 5million households on Universal Credit and 1million on working tax credits, 44% will struggle to pay bill.
Meanwhile, one in three said they don’t know if they will be able to continue pay their rent or mortgage without the uplift.
The deadline is expected to push 20% of claimants into debt, according to the charity.
MPs have urged the government to continue with the extra £20 a week payment.
David Linden, the SNP MP for Glasgow East, yesterday said: "This Tory Government can carry out one of the biggest cuts to benefits in decades, bringing the basic level of benefits back to early-1990s levels, or they can provide substantial long-term support to people, so which will it be?"
However, Quince said that as lockdown ends "it is absolutely right that our focus shifts towards supporting and empowering people back into work, because we know—all the evidence shows us—that work is the best route out of poverty."
The Chancellor said in March that the payment boost would end later this year as lockdown would be long over by then.
Pensions secretary Therese Coffey has also previously ruled out continuing the boost beyond September.
In May she told the Evening Standard: "We’re not anticipating, or I’m not anticipating, any further need to do stuff entirely out of the ordinary.
"We need to try and get people into work and fill the vacancies that we do have in this country."
But the government has since delayed the final stage of lockdown lifting by a month.
Lockdown was initially forecast to end on June 21 but "freedom day" has been pushed back to July 19.
Coronavirus financial aid measures – including the Universal Credit uplift and furlough – have not been extended.
Furlough support will be rolled back from this week, with employers expected to contribute more to workers' pay packets.
The scheme is expected to be fully wound-up in September.
Meanwhile, the government has given the go-ahead to residential landlords to begin eviction proceedings against tenants.
The Sun has contacted the Department for Work and Pensions for comment.
What you need to know about furlough changes including your rights if you’re coming off it.
Discounts and freebies you can get if you’re on Universal Credit or benefits.
How to get one-off Universal Credit payment worth up to £812 to help pay bills.
Source: Read Full Article