A poll of benefit claimants found 47% believe they won’t be able to manage on a household budget that is £85-a-month lower – as landlords and homelessness charities unite to plead for a Tory U-turn
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Almost half of Universal Credit claimants believe they won’t be able to live on the benefit after cuts in six weeks’ time, a damning poll reveals.
A survey found 47% of claimants don’t think they can live on a household budget that is £20-a-week lower from the end of September.
Of the rest, 18% said they did not know if they’d be able to manage – leaving just 35% who were confident they’ll be able to make ends meet this winter.
Overall some 61% said it would be harder to afford food, 48% said it would be tougher to cover essential bills and 37% said it would be more difficult to pay for books and toys.
Save the Children, which commissioned the poll of 1,008 benefit claimants by Opinium, said “hundreds of thousands more people will be pushed into poverty” by the £20-a-week cut – which is coming when an 18-month Covid uplift ends.
DWP data shows almost two-fifths of those on the benefit already have a job. And more than 1.5million households on the benefit by February 2021 were private renters – around double the total a year earlier.
Some 55% of those already have a shortfall between their housing support and the rent they have to pay.
Yet Tory ministers admit they have made no assessment of how the cut will impact 6million people on Universal Credit.
A joint statement by bodies including The Big Issue, Crisis, Nationwide, and the National Residential Landlords Association today(TUE) demands the Tories cancel the £20-a-week cut.
It says the changes “risk pushing many households into poverty, problem debt, and homelessness”.
It adds: “To apply policies like these without doing any meaningful impact assessment is, we argue, lacking the necessary foresight and consideration of the impact they will have on people’s security of tenure and well-being and for many will threaten their chance of recovery.”
The groups also demand ministers reverse the freeze in Local Housing Allowance – which governs how much rent support people can claim.
Gemma, a working single mum who spoke to Save the Children, said: “Before the £20 a week increase, I was having to budget but the money just wasn’t stretching to my bills.
“So for me, £20 a week is a lifeline. It buys Poppy’s packed lunches and her food for the week.
“To take that away from people, families including myself and Poppy are going to really struggle and be plunged back into debt again.”
Six Tory former Work and Pensions Secretaries have demanded the £6bn-a-year cut is reversed, alongside Tory backbenchers, Labour, and a string of charities and experts.
A government spokesperson said: “Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic. The temporary uplift is part of a £400 billion support package and has been extended beyond the ending of restrictions, while we will be maintaining nearly £1 billion of additional housing support through Local Housing Allowance rates.
“Our focus now is on our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs, which will support people in the long-term by helping them learn new skills and increase their hours or find new work.”