The UK government should retain the £20 increase to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit, which has been a lifeline to thousands of households across the city for people struggling to afford the essentials. Charities, health care professionals, foodbanks and councillors across the city are backing the Keep the lifeline campaign and are calling on the government to keep the £20 lifeline in place beyond October 2021.
Struggling to make ends meet
At the start of the pandemic, national government recognised that UC simply didn’t pay enough to cover the cost of essentials. The extra £20 per week has helped millions of people to keep their heads above water. In Newcastle the impact of Covid-19 saw the number of residents on out of work benefits soar from 9,330 in 2019 to 15,610 in July 2020. The planned cut to UC payments by £86 a month is a devastating blow for millions of low-income families who are already struggling to make ends meet.
Trussell Trust research: Keep the lifeline
The Trussell Trust’s research found that the equivalent of more than a million people claiming UC say they are very likely to need to use a food bank if the cut goes ahead. People who are already trapped in difficult situations where their only option is to either feed their kids or heat their home will be affected the most if this £20 is withdrawn from the UC.
Newcastle food banks
Food banks across the city like the independent Kenton Foodbank and the Trussell Trust’s West End Food Bank are playing a pivotal role in mitigating the impact of food poverty. Nationally the UK wide network of foodbanks distributed over 2.5m food parcels from 2020-2021. During the same period the Newcastle Food Bank issued 19,000 food parcels to vulnerable residents across the city. There is a serious danger that this number will rise sharply if the cut is implemented and plunge many into abject poverty and destitution.
There is substantial public support for keeping the £20 a week increase to UC. Central government needs to maintain this payment and deliver a social security system that enables people to afford life’s necessities like food. We urge the government to think again.
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