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Cutting Universal Credit by £20 each week will remove vital safety net

Cutting Universal Credit by £20 each week will remove vital safety net

ClwydAlyn is supporting Community Housing Cymru (CHC) and other housing partners to call on the UK government to retain the £20 per week uplift as a permanent feature of Universal Credit for all current and future claimants.
CHC’s latest report ‘A lot to lose’ reveals that the £20 per week that was added to Universal Credit during the Covid-19 pandemic has been transformational for many housing association tenants in Wales, and has been the difference between paying the bills and putting food on the table.
From October, UK government plans to remove that £20 extra each week from Universal Credit payments, leaving families once again worrying about making ends meet.
We are urging the Department for Work and Pensions to urgently communicate the specific timing of any changes to Universal Credit to claimants, as it’s revealed that the majority of tenants who depend on the additional £20 per week were not aware that it was temporary.

Sheila Powell (60) is a retiree from Flintshire and a ClwydAlyn tenant. As well as claiming Universal Credit herself, Sheila works with local charities to support people who are struggling financially. She says:
“Working with local charities and in the community, I have seen a lot of people who earn minimum wage or less, or are on zero hour contracts. They usually get free school meals and uniforms, but because of lockdown, they weren’t able to access the same support. The £20 extra they have been receiving has really helped.
“Even before the pandemic, I have seen numerous occasions where parents have had to decide between feeding their children, paying the bills or feeding themselves, and any mum would want to feed her child first. This has been an even bigger struggle during Covid, with kids in and out of school.
“With the cost of food going up every week, fuel bills set to increase in the Autumn, and many people still not back in work or able to find work, it just doesn’t make sense to remove this £20 extra payment. In a situation that is often Dickensian. I am all for any help that can be given.”

Stuart Ropke, Chief Executive at Community Housing Cymru said:
“Our report lays bare the difference the additional £20 per week has had on people, and is a stark reminder of the realities many face when it comes to the choice between paying bills and feeding themselves and their families.
“We are grateful to all the tenants who shared their experiences of Universal Credit with their housing associations as part of this research into the real term impact of the uplift. What is alarming is that many people who responded are currently in work, but are still struggling to make ends meet on low wages. Others are seeking work, and need support with paying the bills in order to do so. 
“The UK government must keep this uplift of £20 per week, and listen to the experiences of claimants and what the planned reduction will signify. The additional £20 per week has proven vital to those who claim Universal Credit, providing the support that was so desperately needed even before the pandemic. Removing it will only push people into debt.”
See the full report here.

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