A claimant, who was once in charge of serving food to royals, says he and many others will be unable to pay for food and energy costs when their benefits are cut by £20 a week
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A Universal Credit claimant once in charge of serving food to royals says losing the £20-a-week uplift means many will be forced to choose between “eating and heating” this winter.
The temporary increase in the benefit was announced in March last year as the first lockdown began, but this will end on October 1 .
Universal Credit claimant Paul Phillips, 65, has spinal problems and needs a new knee as he struggles to walk.
He said: “I’m sure the ministers could not live on Universal Credit. Try taking money out of their pockets, they would soon complain and fight for what was right for them.
“I really don’t know what I’m going to do, gas prices are going up, so it looks like a winter of eating or heating. There won’t be enough for both. The extra £80 a month would pay for all my food.
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“I just think it’s disgusting. Even if I could work I would have to work an extra nine hours a week just to get the £20 a week I need.
“I think there will be a lot of poverty over the winter, and people like myself with mental issues are going to end up taking their own lives as they won’t be able to cope.”
Phillips, who lives in Essex, is claiming Universal Credit after a 50-year career in hospitality that once saw him in charge of serving food on board the royal yacht.
“I have worked since I was 15, training as a chef in Torquay,” he said. “I went on in different areas of the country, learning hotel management.
“I worked on cruise ships for 10 years, finally ending up as restaurant manager on board the QE2, before coming back shore-side to carry on my career at being a chef and manager at different locations around the country.”
Some five million households are on Universal Credit.
The £80 increase, described as a lifeline for many families, was introduced at the height of the pandemic last year, to help reduce the pressure on those affected by Covid.
It means the average adult on the standard allowance will see their payments drop from £411.51 to £324.84.
On average, the benefit is worth an extra £1,040 a year.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has insisted the £billion boost will end in October despite charities pleading for it to be made permanent.
Downing Street has also confirmed the cut will be final.
Charity Turn2Us has previously warned that the removal of uplift could see 500,000 people “pulled into poverty overnight” with thousands forced to food banks.
However, extending the uplift would cost the government around £6billion every year.
When the cuts kick in, claimants will lose £20 a week from their benefit payments.
From the beginning of August, Universal Credit claimants started to get notifications that their payments will fall from October 1.