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Citizens Advice Sheffield clients call on Government to ‘Keep the Lifeline’

Ending £20 increase to Universal Credit will affect 1 in 8 working age people in Sheffield and cause a £43 million annual loss of spending power in the city, charity warns.

Hallamshire Hospital from General Cemetery
Shane Rounce

Government plans to cut the £20 weekly increase to Universal Credit would affect 1 in 8 working age people in Sheffield, a leading local charity has warned.

As part of the cross-sector #KeepTheLifeline campaign, Citizens Advice Sheffield (CAS) has gathered "powerful and personal" testimonials from six of its clients which show how much difference the increase has made to people's lives – and how devestating its withdrawal could be.

Several clients said that by taking away the increase, the Government would be making it far harder for them to put food on the table, with one saying they would have to return to using food banks.

"It’s the difference between eating at the end of the month and putting gas and electric on at the end of the month," one client said. "It is a lifeline. It would be really unfair to lose it."

The charity estimates that the cut will cause a £43 million annual loss of spending power in Sheffield. On an individual level, claimants will receive £1,040 less per year.

Nationally there are about six million people who claim Universal Credit. More than a third (35%) have at least one job and 36% are part of families with dependent children, the charity says.

Ahead of the planned cut on 30 September, CAS is calling on "elected representatives, decision-makers and public figures at local, regional and national levels" to put pressure on the Government to make the increase permanent.

"We see first-hand what a struggle it is to make ends meet on Universal Credit," said Clare Lodder, Chief Executive at CAS.

"A £20 a week cut will, for many people, mean that they just don’t have sufficient money to buy enough food and pay essential bills. How can this be right, particularly when we know that the Covid pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on our poorest communities?"

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, also part of the #KeepTheLifeline campaign, estimated in late 2020 that 500,000 people, including 200,000 children, will be "pulled into poverty" if the £20 increase is ended.

by Sam Walby (he/him)
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