Thousands of Wiganers to be hit by Universal Credit cut
More than 30,000 people in Wigan could lose “lifeline” funding as the Government prepares to axe a pandemic-inspired benefits boost.
Since March 2020, Universal Credit claimants have been receiving an extra £20 a week to help them mitigate the financial impact of Covid-19.
Despite calls to make the uplift permanent, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed recently that it would be scrapped this autumn as it had always been intended as a temporary measure.
Data from the Department of Work and Pensions shows that in May, there were 31,970 Universal Credit claimants in Wigan – 12,033 (38 per cent) of whom were in employment
That figure has grown by 76 per cent since February 2020 – shortly before the coronavirus pandemic hit – when there were 18,115 people in the area claiming the benefit.
Six former Conservative work and pensions secretaries wrote to the Government to urge ministers to rethink the contentious cut, which is likely to impact nearly six million people in the UK.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, one of the signatories, said failure to retain the uplift could damage living standards, health and opportunities for struggling families.
And charities say permanently boosting the benefit, worth up to around £1,000 a year, would help to provide financial security and prevent households being plunged into poverty
Anti-poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation described the impending end of the uplift as a “terrible mistake” that would push half a million people below the breadline.
Iain Porter, of the JRF, said: “Social security should be a strong lifeline to protect families from harm and open up options when they hit hard times.
“It’s not too late for ministers to do the right thing by keeping the £20 increase to Universal Credit and extending it to legacy benefits.
“This would enable low-income families in and out of work to live with dignity rather than intensifying their hardship.”
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