More than 8,000 Windsor and Maidenhead residents could lose lifeline of universal credit boost
More than 8,000 people in Windsor and Maidenhead could lose “vital” funding as the government prepares to remove a pandemic-inspired benefit increase.
As of March 2020, universal credit applicants have received an additional £ 20 per week to help them mitigate the financial impact of Covid-19.
Despite calls to make the uprising permanent, Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently confirmed that it will be removed this fall, as it had always been intended as a temporary measure.
Data from the Department for Work and Pensions show that in May there were 8,535 universal credit applicants in Windsor and Maidenhead, of whom 3,554 (42%) were employed.
That figure has more than doubled since February 2020 – shortly before the coronavirus pandemic – when 3,277 people in the region claimed the allowance.
Six former Tory secretaries for work and pensions have written to the government urging ministers to rethink the controversial cut, which is expected to affect nearly six million people in the UK.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, one of the signatories, said failure to maintain the increase could hurt the standard of living, health and opportunities of struggling families.
And charities say the permanent increase in the allowance, worth up to around £ 1,000 a year, would help ensure financial security and prevent households from falling into poverty.
The anti-poverty charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, described the impending end of the increase as a “terrible mistake” that would push half a million people below the poverty line.
Iain Porter, JRF, said: “Social security should be a strong lifeline to protect families from harm and open up options when they go through tough times.
“It is not too late for ministers to do the right thing by maintaining the £ 20 increase in universal credit and extending it to legacy benefits.
“This would allow low-income working and non-working families to live in dignity rather than intensify their difficulties.”
Paul Spencer, of the Mind for Mental Health charity, said the cuts, coupled with the “mental health consequences of the pandemic,” could have a significant and long-term impact, adding: “The benefit system should protect us when our mental or physical health prevents us from earning enough to live.
“Too many people are already struggling to stay afloat with the current rate, so it is appalling that the UK government is considering cutting it at this time.
“We have to keep the lifeline.”
The introduction of universal credit in 2012 followed a radical overhaul of the UK’s welfare system that saw six benefits cut in favor of a one-time payment model designed to help people seeking a working or low income.
A government spokesperson said: “Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and we announced the temporary increase as part of a £ 400 billion package. sterling put in place that will last well beyond the end of the roadmap.
“We are now focused on our multibillion pound jobs plan, which will support people in the long run by helping them learn new skills and increase their hours or find a new job. ”