Keep The Lifeline

13th September 2021

At the beginning of lockdown March 2020, the government added £20 per week to all Universal Credit payments. It wasn’t means-tested, just given, and came as a welcome addition to the household income of many in precarious financial positions.
In a statement last week, the Government said the Universal Credit uplift of £20 per week was always temporary and is part of their ‘plan for jobs’. It also said Universal Credit ‘supports people back into work, as well as supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.’ Universal Credit is due to return to pre-pandemic levels on the 6th October 2021. This comes at the same time as furlough ends, the cap on fuel prices is removed and the moratorium on evictions also ceases.
Universal Credit is a benefit for people of working age that are either out of work, unable to work due to illness or disability, and those already working but who are in low-paid or insecure jobs (such as zero-hour contracts).
Six in ten working-age people referred to food banks in the Trussell Trust network are disabled – three times the rate in the general population, and 18% of households referred to food banks during the pandemic were single parents with primary caring responsibility – more than twice the rate in the general population. Childhood poverty is rising faster than any other demographic in the past decade.
The average foodbank guest has less than £60 per week to live on after housing costs, this is in comparison to the minimum income standard (after housing costs, based on the median household income of the UK up to 31/03/2021) needed each week to stay out of poverty:
£166 for a Single Person
£279 for a lone-parent with 2 children
£399 for a couple with 2 children
Currently, the standard monthly allowances of Universal Credit will drop by £86.67 per month (the £20 per week) to:
£257.33 from £344 for Single under 25s
£324.84 from £411.51 for Single over 25s
£403.93 from £490.60 for Couples under 25
£509.91 from £596.58 for Couples over 25
Analysis by Citizens Advice shows £20 a week is equivalent to six days of energy costs, or three days of food costs for a low-income family.
If you would like to find out more about what the removal of this uplift might mean, these are some useful links:
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have done research into the outcome of the removal of this uplift. You can read some of their articles here:
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has made a short video to accompany their work into the effect of the pandemic on living standards which can be seen here:
Whilst we aren’t party-political, we think it’s important to talk about what we’re seeing at the food bank. The Trussell Trust are working with food banks and charities across the country to encourage people to contact MPs of all political parties to tell them why they think it’s so important for the government to choose to keep the lifeline. If you would like to find out more, please visit:

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