Benefit cuts threat to 24,000 in Northumberland

More than 24,000 people in Northumberland could lose "lifeline" funding as the Government prepares to axe a pandemic-inspired benefits boost.

By Tom Patterson
Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 11:29 am
Updated Saturday, 24th July 2021, 7:21 pm
Benefits cut threat

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.

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.

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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.”

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.”