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#KeepTheLifeline advice press release

Universal Credit cut: Everything you need to know

Over the coming weeks, people claiming Universal Credit will receive notifications about a cut to their benefits this autumn. Benefits experts at Citizens Advice Shropshire, which is campaigning against the cut, set out what this means for claimants.

When will the cut happen?

As it stands, the government is set to slash benefits by £20 a week – equivalent to £1,040 a year – from 6 October. The exact date people will see the cut kick in will depend on the day they get their Universal Credit payment. For many, this means September will be the last month they see their benefits paid at existing levels.

How many people will be affected?

If plans go ahead, the cut will hit nearly six million people on Universal Credit. This includes 7327 people in North Shropshire, 7231 people in Shrewsbury and Atcham and 4934 people in Ludlow.

According to the latest available figures, approximately 40% of residents set to see their benefits drop are families with children and 42% are already in work.

How much could I lose?

While every Universal Credit claim will drop by around £85 a month, the proportion of income claimants will lose will vary depending on their circumstances. Single people under 25 are set to be hit by the biggest drop.

Monthly standard allowances will drop:

  • By a quarter for single claimants under 25, from £344 to £257.33
  • By a fifth for single claimants over 25, from £411.51 to £324.84
  • By 17% for joint claimants under 25, from £490.60 to £403.93
  • By 14% for joint claimants over 25, from £596.58 to £509.91

What support is available if I’m worried about my income?

You’re not alone and there is support available. Everyone’s situation is different which is why speaking to a trained adviser may be helpful. Depending on your circumstances, support could include:

  • A benefits check. This will help you verify you’re getting all the support you’re entitled to. You can use an online calculator as a starting point.
  • Support with essential costs. You can contact Shropshire council to see if they can give you any extra help from a hardship fund, including food or essential things like clothes. shropshire.gov.uk
  • Help with debt. Some bills can cause you more problems than others if you don’t pay them. Rent or mortgage arrears, energy bills and council tax are your priority debts as there can be serious consequences if you don’t pay them. Citizens Advice Shropshire can provide guidance if you’re struggling with bills.
  • Free school meals. If you have children and you get certain benefits, you might be able to get free school meals for your children.
  • Food bank vouchers. If you can’t afford the food you can ask for a referral from Citizens Advice Shropshire or an organisation that’s already supporting you – for example, a charity, school or children’s centre – for a food bank voucher.

Jackie Jeffrey at Citizens Advice Shropshire, said:

“Many people seeking our advice at the moment are unaware of an impending cut to their Universal Credit. Understandably, when they realise their benefits are set to drop by £20 a week it causes a lot of anxiety.

“If you’re in this position, remember you are not alone and there is support available. As a first step, make sure you’re checking your online journal regularly so you know how much your benefits will reduce by and when.

“Citizens Advice Shropshire, which is campaigning against the cut, is on hand to help you if you’re worried about making ends meet.”

 -ends-

 We give people the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward – whoever they are, and whatever their problem.

  1. Figures on how many people will see a cut to their benefits refer to the working age population. Data from May 2021.
  2. The latest available data for the number of families with children on Universal Credit is from February 2021.

#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.” 

 -ends-  

We give people the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward – whoever they are, and whatever their problem. 

  1. Figures on how many people will see a cut to their benefits refer to the working age population. Data from May 2021.  
  2. The latest available data for the number of families with children on Universal Credit is from February 2021. 

Pension Wise is now part of MoneyHelper

Pension Wise is now part of MoneyHelper.

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free, impartial help for all your money and pension choices. Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper. Find out more about getting #pensions guidance at moneyhelper.org.uk/pensionwise.

If you’re over 50 get free, impartial guidance about your defined contribution #pension through Pension Wise, which is now part of MoneyHelper. Book your appointment at moneyhelper.org.uk/pensionwiseor by calling 0800 138 3944.

Do you have money worries or are you worried about debt or budgeting? Help is available

ACT NOW:

  • Please don’t put off dealing with your debt. The longer you leave it before asking for help, the more likely the amount of money you owe is going to increase.
  • Please do not borrow money at high interest rates, including money from illegal lenders. This will put you into greater debt.
  • There are organisations that provide free, confidential, and impartial advice and support with your money worries.
  • If you don’t pay your rent arrears and they continue to increase, your home may be at risk.

Please click here for information about where to get help

Shaping Places Food Insecurity Focus South West Shropshire

Tell us your experience of getting FOOD ON A BUDGET in South West Shropshire. For more information click on flyer below.

Shaping Places flyer


Check, switch and save on your energy bills

We’re taking part in Big Energy Saving Winter. Find out how you can Check, Switch and Save on your energy bills today by visiting our campaign website www.bigenergysavingwinter.org.uk

Take the Big Energy Saving Winter quiz to test your knowledge and get tips to help you save money on your energy bills this winter bigenergysavingwinter.org.uk/quiz

If you have money worries, rent arrears or are experiencing hardship because of Coronavirus, help is available in Shropshire

Shropshire Council:

  • Local Support & Prevention Fund 0345 678 9078
  • Coronavirus Helpline 0345 678 9028

Citizens Advice Shropshire: 03444 99 11 00

Citizens Advice Telford & The Wrekin: 0300 330 1165

Help to Claim (Universal Credit) England: 0800 144 8444

Low cost & emergency food www.shropshirelarder.org.uk

Coronavirus: Warning to residents on scam calls claiming to be NHS Test and Trace

Shropshire Council’s trading standards team want to make residents aware of reports of a new telephone scam about NHS Test and Trace that is coming to light.

Callers are contacting residents saying they are from NHS Test and Trace, and telling the resident that they have been in contact with someone suffering from COVID-19, and need to have a test sent out to them.

This is then followed with a request for the resident’s bank details; the caller states that the test and results cost £500.

Currently, coronavirus test kits are provided by the NHS so they are therefore free of charge. The Department of Health and Social Care has spoken out about this particular scam, with Dr Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, saying that legitimate calls would be “very obvious”.

Our trading standards team have been made aware of this, and want to urge people not to fall for this scam. If you need a test sent out to you because you are unable to attend a test site, this is done for free; both delivery and collection, followed up by the result.

Important! NHS Test and Trace will NOT:

  • Ask you for details of card or bank account numbers
  • Ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone
  • Ask you to provide or fill in social media login details
  • Ask you to download anything
  • Ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087.

Scam text messages often encourage the recipient to click a link that redirects them to an unsecured website where personal information may be stolen.  

NHS Test and Trace will only ever call from the number 0300 013 5000, or you will be texted from “NHS”.

Our trading standards team strongly advises you to take the following actions to protect yourselves:

  • Only purchase products from recognised and legitimate retail sources, and when it comes to medicines and medical devices this should be a registered pharmacy
  • Take a moment to think before parting with money, and consider what would be a reasonable price to pay for the product you wish to buy
  • Don’t be rushed into making decisions
  • Don’t assume everyone and every product that is advertised is genuine; rogues and scammers are well practised at the art of persuasion, and they can appear very professional and legitimate with calls often not being “very obvious” that they are scams
  • It’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore requests from traders, whether this is someone calling you on the phone, standing on your doorstep or sending you an email.

If you have any concerns about trading practices relating to COVID-19 or any other issue, you should report these to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.

Keep informed and sign up to our daily coronavirus email updates

Shropshire Council wants to keep you as up to date and informed as possible. To help us do this, we have developed a coronavirus update that will be sent daily at 8pm via email to anyone who has signed up to our e-bulletins.

This update includes the day’s key Shropshire Council news, and some key news from our partners, relating to coronavirus-linked issues. Please click here to sign up for the updates.

Please do encourage your family and friends to sign up to the updates too. This will help us keep everyone up to date with the rapidly-evolving crisis.

Test yourself in our scams quiz and read our top tips to protect yourself from being scammed

This year’s Scams Awareness campaign kicks off on 15 June.

It’s an opportunity to help your community be #ScamAware so they can stop scammers all year round, not just during the coronavirus crisis.

Lots of scammers are using coronavirus to trick people into giving them money or personal information.

We’re here to give you the skills and confidence you’ll need to stop scams in their tracks. Check out our website for more info https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/sa20/

How #ScamAware you? Be #ScamAware and learn ways to stop 🛑 report 📞 and talk 🗣️ about scams. Test yourself in our scams quiz and read our top tips to protect yourself from being scammed. https://bit.ly/37go0r6