We visited the Universal Credit hotspot in Stoke-on-Trent – this is what life is like
More than 30,000 cash-strapped Stoke-on-Trent residents will be worse off next month – if the government goes ahead with plans to cut all universal credit applicants by £ 20 a week.
The government has announced that the £ 20 per week increase in universal credit (UC) – which was introduced at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – will be phased out next month.
It will be a hammer blow for applicants who stand to lose a total of over £ 1,000 in income per year.
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A survey by StokeonTrentLive this week revealed that there are large variations between the various services in Stoke-on-Trent in terms of the number of people benefiting from UC.
Our survey found that the Bentilee and Ubberley council district has the largest number of asylum seekers in the city – 1,860.
Now, StokeonTrentLive reporter Kit Roberts has visited the service to find out how people’s lives will be affected by the impending government downsizing.
So what is life like in Bentilee and Ubberley?
Andrew Barr is counting on its Universal Credit to get by.
The 60-year-old said: “It’s terrible. They say they gave us an extra £ 20 a week during the pandemic – and that is now stopping next month.
“They don’t give you any money to live on at all. By the time I pay my rent, and then I have to pay my housing tax, gas, electricity, television, and I still haven’t of food. I have absolutely nothing. I am paid on the 28th of the month and the next day I have nothing left. “
Account advisor Nicki neckar does not currently claim UC – but is fully aware of the challenges people face.
The 21-year-old, from Bentilee, said: “It is very difficult for many families, especially in Bentilee. I think it is unfair to take something away from the working class. I think the upper classes should compensate for that rather than take away from people who already don’t have enough money to live on.
“The idea that working parents have to work nine extra hours to make up for this reduction is absolutely ludicrous, because no one can find nine extra hours besides a full-time job and babysitting to do so. .
“I’ve never been in this situation before, but it barely covers the bare minimum. That £ 20 could be a weekly store for some people. But I don’t think that’s enough. It’s barely enough to really get by.
Matthew Miles is currently in training in video editing and aims to become independent. For the moment, he depends on the benefits to get by, which, according to him, are totally insufficient.
“I have been receiving the employment support allowance for several years and they forced me to switch to universal credit. They’ll probably get me started on the base amount. It starts all over again. It’s six weeks of waiting for the money, for the benefits to arrive.
“I hope to be self-employed, so it’s all about learning a trade. It’s about depending on myself and not on the state. “
Retirement Guillaume Grégoire receives a care allowance and believes that more resources should be made available.
The 66-year-old, from Moss Green, said: “There are people who can’t afford a can of beans – they have to go to food banks.
“It’s just one of those things, it’s how the world is doing. If they gave people a decent amount to live on, that should be enough – but they don’t.
Retirement Guillaume Mochan believes that young families, in particular, need more support.
The 70-year-old, from Bentilee, said: ‘Taking away £ 20 a week from people when they need it is a bit much in my opinion.
“If universal credit was supposed to keep people out of poverty, they have to put £ 20 into it and energy bills go up.
“We’re not that bad, our kids have grown up and got on the plane the next day, but for people with young families it’s very hard on them. Not just around that area, but Stoke-on-Trent in general.
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Here’s how many people are on UC in each department at Stoke-on-Trent:
- Hulton and Townsend Abbey – 1,513
- Baddeley, Milton and Norton – 1,422
- Bentilee and Ubberley – 1,860
- Birches Head and Central Forest Park – 1,431
- Blurton East – 488
- Blurton West and Newstead – 1001
- Boothen and Oak Hill – 831
- Bradeley and Chell Heath – 658
- Broadway and Longton East – 440
- Burslem center – 1 217
- Burslem Park – 657
- Dresden and Florence – 538
- Eaton Park – 366
- Etruria and Hanley – 1,409
- Fenton East – 891
- Fenton West and Mount Pleasant – 795
- Ford Green and Smallthorne – 743
- Goldenhill and Sandyford – 667
- Grand Chell and Packmoor – 937
- Hanford and Trentham – 405
- Hanley and Shelton Park – 756
- Hartshill and Basford – 782
- Hollybush and Longton West – 579
- Place des Menuisiers – 1 224
- Lightwood Nord and Normacot – 626
- Petit Chell and Stanfield – 954
- Meir Hay – 282
- Meir North – 971
- Meir Park – 155
- Meir South – 905
- Moorcroft – 930
- Penkhull and Stoke – 617
- Sandford Hill – 722
- Sneyd Green – 542
- Springfields and Trent Vale – 685
- Stall – 1,091
- Weston Coyney – 344