The UK government’s plan to reduce Universal Credit payments by £20 will have a major impact on the scale of demand for foodbank services across the country.
Indeed, according to the estimates of the foodbank charity the Trussell Trust, there could be as many as 1.2 million extra people missing meals because of the reductions to the very widely claimed benefit.
That figure is based on polling that suggests roughly one in five claimants of Universal Credit will find themselves needing to skip meals once their benefit cut kicks in.
It is also understood that the cut will leave hundreds of thousands of people struggling or unable to settle their energy bills or to afford to cover the costs involved in getting to and from their workplaces.
The Trussell Trust is one of many charitable organisations campaigning for the government to reverse its decision to remove the £20 uplift to Universal Credit payments, which was introduced in the early weeks of the Covid pandemic.
Claimants of Universal Credit tend to be under huge financial pressure even with the £20 uplift in place, the Trussell Trust’s recent research has made clear.
The charity’s figures suggest that some 77 per cent of claimants are already struggling to keep up with their bills and to meet demands for debt repayments, which equates to around 4.7 million people.
Almost two million people on Universal Credit are believed to have missed meals due to a lack of money within the last month and roughly 1.4 million are thought to have gone without basic toiletries for the same reason within the same timeframe.
Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, has said removing the £20 Universal Credit uplift next month would be a “devastating blow” for millions of families across the UK.
“This research reveals the shocking consequences of what lies ahead if this lifeline is cut in October,” she said.
“No one should have to suffer the indignity of not being able to afford the essentials in life – like food.
“That’s why we’re saying it would be wrong of the UK government to take away £20 a week from already precarious incomes and push even more people through the doors of foodbanks.”
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