As the Tories’ cut to Universal Credit draws closer, the UK’s largest foodbank network is stepping up action to resist it. It needs your help to do so – and it’s not the only group making moves.
Universal Credit chaos
As The Canary previously reported, in April 2020 the DWP increased Universal Credit by £20 a week in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. But chancellor Rishi Sunak and the DWP have only put the increase in place until September 2021. From 6 October, the Tories will cut £20 a week from Universal Credit claimants.
This cut will hit various people hard, including 660,000 low-paid key workers, 3.4 million children, and six out of ten lone parent families. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) warned that:
Half a million more people are set to be pulled into poverty, including 200,000 children.
But so far, the DWP has refused to budge. Moreover, as The Canary previously reported, it’s starting to notify claimants about the cut. Meanwhile, the Labour Party is hand-wringing – not even wanting to say if it would reverse the cut. So it’s down to charities and community groups to apply pressure to the DWP.
Keep the Lifeline
The Trussell Trust is one such group. It’s running a campaign called Keep the Lifeline:
How would you feel if your income was suddenly cut by a fifth? The UK govt is planning to cut #UniversalCredit by £20 a week – we're concerned this will mean even more people need a #foodbank. Please write to your MP & ask them to help #KeepTheLifeline https://t.co/cW7bgwcSp4 pic.twitter.com/uzDSta5SeE
— The Trussell Trust (@TrussellTrust) August 9, 2021
As the trust said:
For the average person on Universal Credit, the cut represents a loss of 13% of income, and for some families the figure will be as high as 21%.
For many families, the real-world impact will be dire. The Trussell Trust found via a survey that if the £20 a week cut happens:
- 4 in 10 people fear they will be very likely to cut back on food for themselves.
- 1 in 5 people think it is very likely that they will need support from a food bank.
- 1 in 8 parents think they are very likely to cut back on food for their children.
So, what action is the Trussell Trust taking?
It’s running a four-pronged campaign. And it wants people to get involved based on how much time they have. The Trussell Trust says that if you have:
- Five minutes: share its social media posts.
- 10 minutes: email your MP via this form.
- 15 minutes: set up a WhatsApp group with your friends to tell them about what’s going on.
- 45 minutes: join the online event on 8 September. Details are here.
The trust also wants stories from people affected by the cut. You can find out more here.
And the Trussell Trust is not the only organisation taking action.
Rising resistance to the cut
Groups like Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) have been out campaigning in communities:
An excellent joint stall today between Unite Community South Yorkshire members in Sheffield and DPAC Sheffield.
— DPAC Sheffield 🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈♿✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽✊🏼✊🏻 (@DPACSheffield) August 28, 2021
As have Unite Community:
— Bromley and Croydon Unite Community (@and_unite) August 13, 2021
Meanwhile, the main Unite union has been taking action too. You can sign up to its campaign here:
We’re drawing a line in the sand. Taking away £20 from people already struggling to put food on the table is cruel.
— Unite – North East, Yorkshire and Humber (@UniteNEYH) August 26, 2021
ICYMI: Families gathered on town Bridlington beach to send a message in the sand to @RishiSunak imploring him to #CancelTheCut to #UniversalCredit at the end of September.https://t.co/jPK86N5vYY pic.twitter.com/7rIabKIVqS
— Unite the union: join a union (@unitetheunion) August 29, 2021
The opposition to the Tories’ cut is growing. But as the Trussell Trust said:
We have a small window of opportunity before October to try and protect over a million more people from being swept into poverty.
It’s crucial we all act if we can. And we need to do whatever it takes, quickly.
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