Thursday, September 02, 2021

The Pain of Universal Credit Reduction

 Universal credit is a government benefit paid to about six million people who are on a low income or don't have a job. A £20 weekly drop in the payment, which will come into effect next month. It's happening because the government's ending a booster payment that was brought in last year to help support people when the UK first went into lockdown in April 2020.

Single people under 25 will be hardest hit by the change, because they have the lowest standard allowance for universal credit in the first place, at £344 a month. When the uplift is cut that will fall by about 25%.

The proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds claiming income-related benefits increased from 9% to 15% during Covid - a larger increase than any other age group, according to research from the Resolution Foundation.

Some 100 organisations, including leading voices on health, education, children and housing, have written an open letter to the prime minister in an attempt to change his mind about ending the uplift.

The open letter sent to Boris Johnson was coordinated by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and says the payment drop "risks causing immense, immediate, and avoidable hardship".

The JRF estimates it will put 500,000 people into poverty overnight, while Citizens Advice says 2.3 million people could fall straight into debt.

People experience an increase in psychological distress after being put on universal credit, a scientific study published in The Lancet suggests.

"It defies logic to limit Universal Credit based on a claimants' age," says the charity Centrepoint's Paul Noblet. "Rent, bills and food don't care what your date of birth is and it's these essentials that our benefits system is meant to help cover."

  • For single people under the age of 25, the standard allowance with the uplift is £344. When the uplift is cut that will fall by more than 25% to £257.33
  • For single people over 25, the standard allowance is going down from £411.51 to £324.84. That's a 21% decrease
  • For couples under 25, it's dropping by almost 18% from £490.60 (for both of you) to £403.93
  • For joint claimants where one of you or both of you are over 25, it's going from £596.58 (for both) to £509.91 - a 14% decrease

Universal credit £20 drop: 'I'm used to hunger pains' - BBC News

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