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Universal Credit cuts: Covid boost axed- should Universal Credit be increased permanently?

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Across the UK, more than 5.6 million households rely on Universal Credit for everyday living costs. The payments are a lifeline for those unable to work, who are seeking employment or need their income topping up.

Universal Credit replaces several separate benefits, amalgamating them into one payment.

This includes Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Working Tax Credit.

Now new research conducted by 38 Degrees has shown there has been a 37 percent rise in applications since the beginning of the pandemic.

The survey of 1,904 people was carried out between September 14 and 15.

Read More: Universal Credit Christmas payments: Does UC get paid early?

The coronavirus pandemic has triggered an economic crisis, increasing job losses, reductions in salaries and working hours.

This has led to a surge in people seeking benefits to supplement their income.

And with a new wealth of restrictions coming into effect from Wednesday, the economic crisis may deepen yet further.

The data has also found for more than four out of five (84 percent) Universal Credit payments are not enough to cover food, rent bills, or other living costs.

The research has shown a high percentage of people are not able to survive on Universal Credit.

Of the respondents, 65 percent have missed meals to cut down on food costs, while 51 percent have gone into arrears on bills or rent.

In total 46 percent have used savings to pay for essential expenses, while 44 percent have asked for payment breaks and 34 percent have turned to credit cards to cover payments.

Another survey for 38 Degrees, conducted by YouGov, showed widespread concern about future job losses in the next three months.

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Of the 1,621 surveyed in September, a fifth (20 percent) of British adults concerned about their own job and 43 percent concerned about a relative’s job.

And 61 percent of those asked in the same survey said they would find it difficult to pay for their essential costs if they had to rely on Universal Credit.

Now nearly 100,000 people have signed a petition demanding Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak urgently review Universal Credit.

The petition is calling on the Government to make sure people have enough money to survive.

They are also asking the PM to make the £20-a-week boost permanent.

The boost was implemented to help low-income families cope with the extra cost of the pandemic, however, this will come to an end after a year and leave families £1,400 a year worse off.

You can find the petition here on 38 Degrees website.

Cathy Warren, Campaign Manager, 38 Degrees told “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”

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