Nineteen Thanet community groups and Margate artist Tracey Emin have signed a letter to government protesting against the end of a temporary £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit which was brought in during the covid pandemic.
The higher rate is due to officially end on October 6. People claiming Universal Credit will receive – or already have received – notifications about the cut to their benefit which is equivalent to £1,040 a year.
The letter has been signed by groups including Thanet Iceberg Project – responsible for The Kitchen CT9 – The Gap Project, Ramsgate Salvation Army and Margate Independent Foodbank and by both Thanet Labour and Green party members.
In it, they say the £1040 yearly reduction will impact 18,839 individuals in Thanet with 34% -some 6,072- in work.
Universal Credit is a payment to help with living costs for those on a low income or who are out of work. It can be claimed if the claimant is employed but they have a low income.
While every Universal Credit claim will drop by around £85 a month, the proportion of income claimants will lose will vary depending on their circumstances. Single people under 25 are set to be hit by the biggest drop.
Monthly standard allowances will drop:
By a quarter for single claimants under 25, from £344 to £257.33
By a fifth for single claimants over 25, from £411.51 to £324.84
By 17% for joint claimants under 25, from £490.60 to £403.93
By 14% for joint claimants over 25, from £596.58 to £509.91
The letter adds: “The reduction is guaranteed to impact the children of those claiming Universal Credit, There are 9,010 children classed as living in poverty in Thanet (after housing costs). This is the largest number of children of all Kent local authorities according to Kent County Council’s analytics department. 33% of Thanet children now live in poverty.”
In the letter the signatories say the cut will result in hardship for families and a massive reduction of some £19million going into the local economy.
Margate ward councillor Rob Yates said: “With rising energy prices, higher National Insurance taxes, and increasing food prices the £86 a month cut to Universal Credit can only be described as immoral.
“This £20 a week uplift brings £19m a year extra income into Thanet which is spent on local businesses and on creating jobs locally. A third of the people on Universal Credit in Thanet are in-work, so this is not just about jobs. I am very concerned what will happen this winter if this cut happens and hope that more Conservative MPs can see the error in their ways and demand an urgent U-turn from Boris and the Treasury.”
“The difference between empty cupboards and food on the table”
Morgan Wild, Head of Policy at Citizens Advice, said: “More than half a million people have come to Citizens Advice for support with Universal Credit since the pandemic. We know the extra £20 a week has often meant the difference between empty cupboards and food on the table.
“The government should do the right thing and keep this vital lifeline. It’s the best way of making good on its ‘levelling up’ promise and supporting households to recover from this crisis.”
The £20pw uplift was initially intended to last 12 months and was due to expire in April 2021. However, in the March 2021 budget, the Government announced that it would be extended for a further six months. It also said that it would make a one-off payment of £500 to eligible working tax credit recipients.
In July this year, the Government confirmed that it would withdraw the uplift at the end of September as planned. Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said that the uplift was being “phased out, in line with all the other temporary measures that are also being removed”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that as Covid-19 restrictions eased, the emphasis “has got to be on getting people in work and getting people into jobs, and that is what we are doing”.
Earlier this month MPs voted 253-0 in favour of cancelling the cut but the Labour-led vote was non-binding meaning it can be ignored.
Citizens Advice – 0344 411 1444
|Thanet Iceberg Project|
|Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet CIC|
|The Gap Project|
|GMB Trade Union|
|East Kent Mind|
|Art Education Exchange|
|Tracey Emin CBE RA|
|A Better Cliftonville|
|Carl Whitewood, Ramsgate Salvation Army|
|GRASS Cliftonville CIC|
|Thanet Community Churches|
|Rabbi Cliff Cohen, Thanet & District Reform Synagogue|
|Cliftonville Cultural Space|
|The Pavillion Youth & Community Café/Zone Youth Club, Broadstairs|
|The Margate School|
|Revd Dawn Watson|
|Margate Independent Foodbank CIC|
|GMB Trade Union|