The Universal Credit uplift, which was temporarily to help claimants during the pandemic, is being phased out from October 13
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Half of Universal Credit claimants were struggling to feed themselves even before the Tories removed the £20-a-week uplift, research shows.
Food insecurity was higher among disabled claimants, people who had their payments reduced and those making debt repayments in the last month.
Researchers from Salford University, also found people claiming Universal Credit (UC) saw no rise in food insecurity during the Covid-19 pandemic, while those on legacy benefits who were not eligible for the uplift saw “sharply rising insecurity”. T
The UC increase, introduced temporarily to help claimants weather the storm during the pandemic, is being phased out and from October 13 no payments will include the uplift.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently announced a Household Support Fund for families worth £500 million, aimed to help them access food, clothing and utilities.
The announcement came as the UC benefit was scrapped.
Yesterday he defended the £20-a-week cut amid rising bills and strains on people’s finances.
He told BBC Breakfast: “There are lots of things in place to help people get through the winter.”
Dr Ben Baumberg Geiger, lead author and reader at the University of Kent, said the majority of severely food insecure claimants will not gain anything from the new fund.
He said it “cannot make up for the loss of £20/week for Universal Credit claimants – it’s a simple matter of maths”.
Further analysis showed more than 1 million people received financial support from family and friends in the early stages of the pandemic according to the independent Tory think tank Bright Blue.
Ryan Shorthouse, chief executive of the think tank said: “The Conservative government cannot really represent left-behind places and people if it now makes the biggest single cut to working-aged benefits ever seen.”
A Government spokesman said: “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit and the furlough scheme were temporary.
“They were designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and they have done so.
“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work and it’s right that the Government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”