#KeepTheLifeline summer press release
‘Keep Universal Credit lifeline’ urges Citizens Advice
- Benefits cut of £20-a-week set to hit 1 in 9 in Shropshire
- Local charity warns of increased debt and hardship if ‘lifeline’ ends in October
Citizens Advice Shropshire is urging the government against a cut to Universal Credit that would impact 1 in 9 working-age people in Shropshire.
According to the latest available figures, approximately40% of Shropshire residents set to see their benefits drop are families with children and 42%are already in work.
Staff and volunteers at the local charity have helped 1942people with Universal Credit since March last year. It says the £20 a week increase has been a ‘lifeline’ and has supported people who were already struggling before the pandemic as well as those hit by Covid job losses.
The charity warns a cut to the benefit this autumn – as energy bills rise with the colder weather – will see many struggle to afford their essential costs. It fears a drop in income could be particularly difficult for new benefits claimants who may be unaware of the looming cut.
Cases seen by frontline advisers include a single mum of 3 school aged children who told us the £20 uplift was enabling her to pay for broadband connection so that her children could do their schoolwork at home. With £20 uplift due to end she did not know if she would be able to maintain this and she was worried how this would impact on her children education, with most homework/home study now being online.
Alison, Advice Session Supervisor of Citizens Advice Shropshire said:
‘’The £20 per week uplift has been a lifeline for working families who are facing rising household bills alongside threats of redundancy or unstable zero hours contracts. Families that are already worried about how they will put food on the table every week and keep their homes warm this winter before the £20 cut to their incomes.’’
Sue, Debt Caseworker of Citizens Advice Shropshire said:
‘’It is acknowledged that there are enormous levels of debt to be dealt with in the coming months/years. For anyone who has fallen into rent arrears, retaining the £20 uplift would make the difference between managing a small payment to pay off the arrears, and avoiding possession action, or failing and potentially losing their home.’’
Jackie Jeffrey, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Shropshire said:
“Every day, our staff and volunteers see the difference the increase to Universal Credit has made to families. It’s what has helped them keep their heads above water.
“Without that extra money, we fear we’d see more people coming to us in debt, unable to pay their bills or turning to food banks because they can’t afford the essentials.
“As we look to rebuild from Covid, the government must invest in the benefits system and keep this vital lifeline.”
We give people the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward – whoever they are, and whatever their problem.
- Figures on how many people will see a cut to their benefits refer to the working age population. Data from May 2021.
- The latest available data for the number of families with children on Universal Credit is from February 2021.