The £20 uplift that has been received by those who claim Universal Credit since the beginning of COVID is set to be cut in September and we are urging all local people to contact their MPs to ask them to #KeeptheLifeline. People can also join the petition started by Joseph Rowntree Foundation here:
We have been there to help all during the pandemic and beforehand and know just how vital this uplift has been to many across the county.
In recent months, High Wycombe has been identified as having one of the highest levels of food poverty in the country and that is without this extra money being taken away.
It is not just unemployed who are going to suffer if this lifeline is cut. We help thousands of people from all backgrounds. And we know many of those who are struggling and who will struggle more if this is cut, are those who are working and receiving Universal Credit to top up their income to survive.
These people who are often labelled as the ‘working poor’ are often the same people who worked so hard for Bucks throughout the pandemic. We see these essential workers- the delivery drivers, care workers and NHS workers, and many more. The benefits that support those on no wage or low wages have failed to keep up with inflation. For many living in Bucks the effect of this cut may mean having to choose between heating their homes and eating this winter. This is not something that should be happening in an economically developed country.
Over 29,000 children are already living in poverty across Buckinghamshire right now and behind each one of these children is a family struggling to make ends meet. No family should have to turn to food banks to be able to feed their children. We should not be seeing huge queues at the community food banks as wonderful as they are.
Food banks were always designed for an absolute emergency not to become a weekly supply of food for those in the greatest levels of poverty.
With many also facing a cliff edge of losing their employment as a result of furlough this September, there are many more people turning to benefits than ever had to before.
Our Head of Development and Communications here at Citizens Advice Bucks, Anna Day explains why taking action now is so important:
“Record numbers of people across Buckinghamshire have been affected by losses of income over the last 18 months as a result of the pandemic. We owe it to those families who have worked so hard to home educate their children during COVID, and those key workers that have helped maintain society through a tragic time of loss and hardship not to abandon them now. The whole purpose of the furlough scheme and the extension of the benefit scheme was to prevent people from starving and falling into absolute poverty. What is the point of that huge investment if we’re going to give
up now before things have truly improved?”
Jane Mordue, our Chair says: “This lifeline continues to be essential to many. If your income is low or uncertain, you are not going to be looking forward to this coming winter. Covid has not gone away, and, another shutdown could still be on the cards, as the death toll increases, as has happened elsewhere despite immunising much of the country. The economy is still finding its feet. We know from our clients that their communities are likely to face financial hardship this winter, with rising prices and shortages. It is totally the wrong time to pull this lifeline away. It is helping to stop
people falling below the breadline. If we want to ensure that everyone comes through the pandemic, this would be a vital and humane step to take.“
You can join the national campaign to maintain the Universal Credit uplift by writing to your local MP at theyworkforyou.org. You can find out more about the national campaign from Citizens Advice here- https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/our-work/our-campaigns/all-our-current-campaigns/Universal-Credit/