UC cut to hit more than 30,000 people in Stoke-on-Trent

Universal Credit

30,442 people across the city were claiming Universal Credit on August 12, according to the latest figures from DWP

Around one in five working-age people in Stoke-on-Trent will be hit by the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit as the Government is set to remove the benefit boost.

30,442 people across the city were claiming Universal Credit (UC) on August 12, the latest Department for Work and Pensions figures show.

That’s 19 per cent of the people aged between 16 and 64 in the area, according to the latest Office for National Statistics population estimates – around one in five people in the age group.

That was above the average of 14 per cent across Britain as a whole.

The £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit was introduced in March 2020 to help tackle hardship caused by the pandemic, but is officially due to end today.

The increase also applies to Work Tax Credits, though local figures on the number of individuals claiming WTC are not available.

But analysis by Anti-poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) found that 26 per cent of working-age families across Stoke-on-Trent would be affected by the reduction to both types of benefit.

The figure rose to 55 per cent when only including working-age families with children, according to the charity’s research.

But others argue it showed the level of support provided by benefits was inadequate before the pandemic due to years of austerity.

Voices from across the political spectrum have called for the increase to be made permanent, as the wind-up of other support such as the furlough scheme means even more people may need help.

Many families also face rising energy bills, higher inflation affecting the cost of living, and next year’s planned increase to National Insurance payments.

Across Britain, nearly six million people were on Universal Credit in August, just over double the number in February 2020 and higher still than in August 2019.

Katie Schmuecker, deputy director of policy and partnerships at JRF, said: The Prime Minister is abandoning millions to hunger and hardship with his eyes wide open.

The biggest ever overnight cut to social security flies in the face of the Government’s mission to unite and level up our country, she said.

When the increase to UC was introduced, the Chancellor said it was to strengthen the safety net – a tacit admission a decade of cuts and freezes had left our social security lifeline to wear thin and threadbare for families in and out of work relying on it, she said.

She said: This planned cut would reverse the progress made and leave it wholly inadequate.

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