Benefit cuts threat to 24,000 in Northumberland

Benefits cut threatBenefits cut threat
Benefits cut threat
More than 24,000 people in Northumberland 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 but, despite calls to make the rise 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 24,738 Universal Credit claimants in Northumberland – 9,855 of whom were in employment.

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That figure has doubled since February 2020 – shortly before the coronavirus pandemic hit – when there were 12,570 people in the area claiming the benefit.

The cut is likely to impact nearly six million people nationally.

Iain Porter, of anti-poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Social security should be a strong lifeline to protect families from harm and open up options when they hit hard times.

"It’s not too late for ministers to do the right thing by keeping the £20 increase to Universal Credit and extending it to legacy benefits.”

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A Government spokesperson said: “Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and we announced the temporary uplift as part of a £400bn package of measures that will last well beyond the end of the roadmap.

“Our focus now is on our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs, which will support people in the long-term by helping them learn new skills and find new work.”