Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are facing mounting pressure after nearly 100,000 people signed a petition demanding that the £20-a-week Universal Credit boost be made permanent. The additional financial support was introduced by the Government to help low-income families cope with the extra cost of the coronavirus pandemic, but it is due to come to an end in April 2021. Cathy Warren, manager at 38 Degrees for the campaign, spoke to Express.co.uk about the potentially devastating effects of retracting the measure in six months.
She said: “I think the impact is going to be absolutely huge.
“We know from the survey we conducted with over 1,900 Universal Credit claimants that 83 percent of people said it would be either very difficult or impossible to pay for their essential costs.
“And 45 percent of them said it was going to be impossible.
“We know that even with the increase people are falling behind on their bills, on rent and missing meals.”
Ms Warren continued: “The consequences of this £20 going is only going to make that even worse.
“It means more people going hungry, more people risking eviction, it means people falling behind on mortgage payments, possibly losing their home and it’s more debt.
“So what is already a struggle with the £20 is going to become an even greater struggle.
“It’s going to push many people into impossible choices that no one should have to face.”
Ms Warren added: “There is no doubt everyone is feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“But our research shows those on Universal Credit are the ones who are really struggling, and will continue to feel the knock-on effects of the economic crisis.
“Universal Credit just isn’t providing them with the level of adequate money needed to cover the basic day to day living costs, and it is extremely concerning that families are having to cut down on food and skip meals just to try and make ends meet.
“The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has already found Universal Credit not fit for purpose in its current form and has led to an unprecedented number of people not being able to pay their rent and having to rely on food banks.
“We are calling on Government to do the right thing and review the current system, to make the current £20-a week boost permanent, reduce tax credit debt and ultimately support some of the some of the most vulnerable in society at a time of crisis.”