Today, the Trussell Trust publishes a new survey that lays bare the devastating impacts that a £20-a-week cut from Universal Credit payments next month will have for people living in London.
This is the biggest overnight cut to social security since the Second World War and will be a huge blow for thousands of families in the city both in and out of work.
New research conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Trussell Trust* finds that 1 in 5 people currently claiming Universal Credit in the city – representing 212,000 people – say they are ‘very likely’ to need to skip meals when the cut hits. Furthermore, 1 in 6 of people surveyed in the London – representing 172,000 people – told researchers they would struggle to heat their homes this winter if their income is slashed in October.
Worryingly, 16% of people surveyed from the area – representing 162,000 people – also say they are very likely to be forced to a food bank if the cut is introduced next month.
Nat is disabled and lives in temporary accommodation in Croydon. Nat is likely to cut down on food when the £20 a week is taken away. They said:
“I’m disabled and have been in temporary accommodation for most of the pandemic. The NHS couldn’t provide my wheelchair so I have to pay for everything – from repairs to insurance. Losing £20 a week means working out where to make cuts and that will probably be my food budget. I don’t have family nearby so I’m going to have to rely on friends. Removing the £20 isn’t an incentive for people to get back to work, especially those of us who medically can’t. It’s penalising us for being alive.”
The Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of more than 1,300 food bank centres, is part of a coalition of 100 organisations that is urgently calling on the UK government to stop the cut as part of the Keep the Lifeline campaign.
The cut comes amid growing need at food banks throughout the charity’s network during the pandemic, as well as year-on-year increases in numbers of emergency food parcels distributed to people who are living in crisis.
The charity says this is not right and the vast majority of the UK public agrees. The research finds only one in five members of the UK public surveyed believes that social security provided enough support to people with physical and/or mental health conditions, which affect most people visiting food banks.
The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie says it doesn’t have to be like this and is urging the public to write to local MPs calling on them to take action and keep the £20-a week lifeline: trusselltrust.org/keepthelifeline
Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said:
“Cutting this lifeline will be a devastating blow for thousands of people across London already struggling to make ends meet. These are families already caught in impossible situations who worry every day about switching on the heating and feeding their children. Families who are nearly at breaking point but just about managing to keep their heads above water.
“This research reveals the shocking consequences of what lies ahead if this lifeline is cut in October. No one should have to suffer the indignity of not being able to afford the essentials in life – like food or heating. That’s why we’re saying it would be wrong of the UK government to take away £20 a week from already precarious incomes and push even more people through the doors of food banks.
“The answer must be to ensure our social security system provides people with enough money to cover the essentials. At the very least we’re saying this October, the UK government must choose to protect people and choose to keep the lifeline.”