14,000 people in Falkirk could lose ‘lifeline Universal Credit top-up funding
More than 14,000 people in Falkirk could lose "lifeline" funding as the Government prepares to axe a pandemic-inspired benefits boost.
Since March 2020, Universal Credit claimants have been receiving an extra £20 a week to help them mitigate the financial impact of Covid-19.
Despite calls to make the uplift permanent, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed recently that it would be scrapped this autumn as it had always been intended as a temporary measure.
Data from the Department of Work and Pensions shows that in May, there were 14,256 Universal Credit claimants in Falkirk – 5,144 (36%) of whom were in employment.
That figure has since grown by 79% since February 2020 – shortly before the coronavirus pandemic hit – when there were 7,976 people in the area claiming the benefit.
Six former Conservative work and pensions secretaries wrote to the Government in a bid to urge ministers to rethink the contentious cut, which is likely to impact nearly six million people in the UK.
Anti-poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation described the impending end of the uplift as a "terrible mistake" that would push half a million people below the breadline.
Paul Spencer, from mental health charity Mind, said the cuts, coupled with the "mental health consequences of the pandemic", could have a significant and long-term impact, adding: "Too many people are already struggling to stay afloat with the current rate, so it’s appalling that the UK Government is planning to cut it at this time.
"We must keep the lifeline."