Universal Credit cut: Northampton charity slams 'unacceptable' move, while single mother says it's 'difference between eating or heating'

A poverty charity in Northampton says it is anticipating a further increase in food bank use following the government's decision to cut Universal Credit

Friday, 8th October 2021, 9:37 am

A charity tackling poverty in Northampton has slammed the government's £20 Universal Credit cut as "unacceptable".

The Hope Centre, in Campbell Street, said it is now anticipating an increase in service users at its food bank following the cut.

A Northampton Hope Centre spokeswoman said: "It is unacceptable to think that anyone who is already living on a limited income can now cope with a further cut to their weekly budget.

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"People are already dealing with rising fuel and food costs and are now expected to cope with a further cut resulting in a potential choice between food or heating this winter.

"Hope has already seen a huge increase in numbers accessing the support of our food club services and we are anticipating a further increase when this latest cut is felt.

"The wider impact is felt on people's mental health as they feel the stresses of having to make impossible choices. We have seen an increase in people using our crisis cafés."

A £20 top-up to Universal Credit was brought in during the peak of the Covid crisis to help people through the pandemic.

The top-up to Universal Credit will not be extended. Photo: Getty

However, that scheme ended on Wednesday (October 6) and was not extended by the government.

Around 60,000 people in Northamptonshire claim Universal Credit and will be affected.

Chron readers explained how the cuts will affect them.

One reader wrote on the Chron's Facebook page: "[I'm a] working single parent. Government tops up my wage as I don’t earn enough in their eyes. My gas and electric has just gone up £50. Water has gone up by £10. So I’ll miss the [£20] uplift but it was temporary and there isn’t much we can do about it anyway.

"Instead of pointing fingers at each other, especially the rich pointing at the poor, maybe wages rising need to be looked at instead or the price of childcare or needless government spending on Covid signage, which was wasted, when they could have helped people with that money.

"[To] some people it was the difference between eating or heating. Look at the government for blame - not the poor."

A motion was put forward by Labour councillor Emma Roberts, of the Delapre and Briar Hill ward to reinstate the £20 top-up, and later a letter was sent to the government from West Northamptonshire Council.

Reacting to the news, councillor Roberts said: "The clear consequences of the cut are before the government and they are ignoring them.

"One child every second is expected to suffer as a result. The government still has an opportunity to change the decision, and we ask they do this before the damage is done."

The standard allowance for a single person aged under 25 falls back from £79 a week to £59.

For a couple, where either one of them is 25 or over, their allowance drops from £137 a week to £117.