Home U.K Jobless couple fear they'll be 'plunged into poverty' in Universal Credit change

Jobless couple fear they'll be 'plunged into poverty' in Universal Credit change

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Charlie, 26, told Liverpool Echo: “We haven’t got any money to play with as it is, we budget so strictly, we never go out – we don’t even have a TV Licence.

“We are just about hanging on, when this cut comes in I don’t know what we will do.

“We won’t be able to heat our house this winter.

“I don’t know where we are going to find the money to get by – I’m losing sleep over it, its really affecting my mental health.”

The couple live in a rented house in Tuebrook, Liverpool, say the current level of Universal Credit they receive is only just enough for them to get by in terms of rent, bills and food.

But the government is determined to cut the benefit uplift now that pandemic restrictions have eased and businesses have reopened. 

It means Charlie and John, who have a joint claim, will lose around £90 a month, which they say will push them over the edge and into poverty.

And Charlie, who is originally from Cambridge but moved to Liverpool for university, added: “We don’t know where that money will come from – it means we will probably have to come out of our food and what we can eat.”

“There is a narrative for some people that everyone on benefits is lazy or scroungers, and you do start to internalise that – but its not for lack of trying, I want to work.

“We have to do 35 hours of job searching a week to qualify for the benefits, that is like a full-time job.”

The government brought in the £20 a week uplift at the start of the pandemic when people were being put on furlough and jobs were being cut altogether.

Charlie graduated during this period and was working in hospitality for a while.

Now she and John both spend 35 hours each week searching for new opportunities.

“Constantly applying for jobs and never getting an interview or even a response is really demoralising, I know its not personal but it can feel that way,” Charlie added.

“I want to work, it is not fun or enjoyable having no money to ever go out or do anything – just sitting in the house all the time.

“I think ending the Universal uplift now, when so many people are still struggling, is just really unfair and really irresponsible, lots of people will be badly affected.

“People who have money might not think £20 a week seems like a lot, but when you have very little and its the difference between being able to eat properly or hear your house – it is a big deal.

“We never go out, we don’t go to the pub, we don’t have a TV licence – I think until you are in this situation you maybe can’t see how hard it is and now its going to get much harder.”

Hundreds of organisations, including leading voices on health, education, children and housing, have written an open letter to the prime minister in an attempt to change his mind about ending the uplift.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates that half a million people will be plunged into poverty overnight when the change comes in, while Citizens Advice predict 2.3 million will fall straight into debt.

Even some Tory MPs have called for the top-up payment to be made permanent, warning that many low-income families will not be able to make ends meet when the change comes in.

Many social media users have shared their anger at the decision.

One woman posted: “I think people are forgetting that the cost of living has risen dramatically too.”

Another shared: “I think living wage should be increased. Care sector is the worse. Family’s having to use food banks is a national shame.”

A third wrote: “I’ve applied for hundreds of jobs, and you get nowhere – it’s not always that easy to be accepted.”



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