Nearly a quarter of a million parents on Universal Credit fear not being able to properly feed their children if the £20 weekly increase is not kept in place past March, a new report warns.
The Trussell Trust has warned of a growing need for food banks from people claiming Universal Credit (UC) as one in five people on the benefit say that they are ‘very likely’ to turn to one, if the £20 rise is removed.
The Trust is urgently calling on the Government to keep the £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit, due to end in April, as a survey revealed the alarming consequences of cutting it.
When the pandemic first hit, the Government increased Universal Credit payments by £20 each week, money that the charity says has prevented tens of thousands of people from needing to use a food bank.
However, the Trust’s polling of 1,000 people on UC found that 41 per cent fear they will be very likely to cut back on food for themselves if the planned cut goes ahead. This is the equivalent of more than 2.4 million people across the UK when extrapolated to population level.
Meanwhile, 13 per cent of respondents – representing more than 220,000 families – think they would be very likely to cut back on food for their children.
The report forecasts an increase in the need for food banks among UC claimants, with 20 per cent – representing 1.2 million people – saying they would ‘very likely’ turn to a food bank for help with £20 less a week. Food bank use is already running at record levels because of the pandemic.
The Trust is urging the government to make the uplift permanent, or at the very least, maintain it for a further year and extend it to those on legacy benefits.
Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said: “No-one should have to suffer the indignity of relying on emergency food. It’s clear that action is needed to ensure our benefits system provides people with enough money to cover the essentials.
“That’s why we’re insisting the government turns this situation around. Keeping the £20 Universal Credit uplift, and extending it to legacy benefits, will provide an anchor from poverty for people who need it most.
“The Government should continue to do the right thing and keep this lifeline. It is a crucial step in moving towards a hunger free future for the UK.”