70,000 in Norfolk alone will lose £1,040 a year due to Universal Credit cut

Universal credit cut could have severe impact warns citizens advice

Universal credit cut could have severe impact warns citizens advice - Credit: PA

Almost 70,000 people across Norfolk are set to lose £20 a week in Universal Credit - which could have a "severe impact", charities have warned.

A £20 uplift in Universal Credit (UC) was introduced during the Covid pandemic to help those struggling to cope.

Campaigners and MPs have said the extra money has been a lifeline to those struggling to make ends meet, many of who are still in work.

With the uplift set to end on October 6, thousands of families across Norfolk will lose £1,040 of annual income.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected calls to make the Universal Credit uplift permanent - Credit: PA

As of June 2021, 69,895 people across Norfolk were on UC — Breckland 9,678, Broadland 6,448, Great Yarmouth 13,923, West Norfolk 10,986, North Norfolk 6,427, Norwich 14,907, South Norfolk 7,526.


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Of them, 30,346 were in employment — around 43.4pc. 

"It's going to have a very severe impact on people," said Joe Norton from Norfolk Citizens Advice.

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"£20 a week might not sound like a huge amount of money but it is if we look at it as a percentage of income - for some people it can be 20pc.

"It was seen as a temporary uplift but after 18 months it will feel like a significant cut.

"This uplift has often helped people cover their shortfall [in rent] there will be a knock-on effect of people getting into rent arrears which could see people getting evicted."

The end of UC could come with the double blow of the end of furlough, which local charity bosses warn could bring a "tsunami of homelessness".

Hannah Worsley, boss of the Norwich Foodbank, said they have had people come to them for the first time because of the pandemic.

“More than half of referalls are now stating low income - they are saying they don’t have enough to make ends meet.

"We have got a lot of people coming to us saying they never expected to use a food bank - many used to donate to us."

Mr Worsley this could be a "perfect storm"  coming at the worst time, with winter always one of the busiest periods.

While the number of people asking for support from the Norwich Foodbank had dropped from the pandemic peak, Ms Worsley warned it was likely to rise again.

“Going into winter we have got Covid, the end of furlough and UC, they could all bring about more demand."

Boris Johnson has dismissed calls to make the uplift permanent, he said: “My strong preference is for people to see their wages rise through their efforts rather than through taxation of other people put into their pay packets."

North Norfolk conservative MP, Duncan Baker, supported the PM, saying the economy was showing improvements.

He said: "Now, as the country unlocks it is only right we focus on creating jobs, improving prospects and supporting people back into work, particularly in sectors like tourism and hospitality where there are so many vacancies in North Norfolk.

"The government’s national plans are aiming to support 2m people into work through a £33bn package for jobs.”

This was backed by Norwich North MP Chloe Smith who called the uplift a sensible temporary part of the response to the pandemic.

Adding: "There has also been a lot of other support, such as help for renters, protection via energy bills and the holiday activities and food programme.

"We have to look to the future now and plan for what’s needed after the pandemic.”

MP Peter Aldous at the Save All Hallows Trust public meeting at Ditchingham Village Hall. PICTURE: J

Waveney MP Peter Aldous is among those calling for the uplift to stay - Credit: Archant

Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis is among those calling for the uplift to stay.

“The Joseph Rowntree Foundation says this is the biggest one-off cut to social security since WW2," he said.

"In Norwich, hundreds of people will be swept into poverty - with almost half of those being children."

Mr Lewis said the UK is close to the bottom of the international league table for unemployment support and the cut showed "warped priorities" of the government.

Waveney Conservative MP, Peter Aldous, is among those calling for the uplift to be made permanent

In an open letter to the PM, he urged the government to change course, saying he was "alarmed" at their failure to heed the warnings.

What is Universal Credit? 

Universal Credit is a working-age benefit that replaced six former benefits into one payment. These were:  

  • Child Tax Credit 

  • Housing Benefit 

  • Income Support 

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) 

  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) 

  • Working Tax Credit 

UC is intended for people on low income or out of work over the age of 18 and under state pension age. 

The UC payment is made up of a standard allowance and extra amounts that apply if you have children, a disability or health condition that prevents you from working, or need help paying rent. 

From October 6, a single person under 25 will get £257.33, down from £344 currently. 

Concerned about the cut or need help? 

Norfolk Citizens Advice offers free, confidential help on benefits and debt advice at  www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ 

The Trussel Trust provides emergency food across the UK visit www.trusselltrust.org/  

The Money and Pensions service has a money navigator tool to help with coronavirus-related money matters at https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/money-troubles/coronavirus/money-navigator-tool  

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