Recipients of Universal Credit (UC) have described feeling “pushed beyond limits” due to the impact of cuts.
A £20-per-week uplift to the benefit that was introduced at the start of the coronavirus pandemic ended on 6 October, leaving recipients £1,040 worse off per year.
Shona Louise, a self-employed writer and theatre photographer, said the reduction will put her under pressure to cover the loss.
Louise told the PA news agency: “I’m self-employed whilst receiving Universal Credit and it helps patch over the gap created by the fact that I’m not able to work full-time hours due to my disability.
“This will just put more pressure on me to stretch myself thin to find more work… I’m already pushing myself to work beyond my limits as it is, but the cut will increase this pressure massively.”
Louise said the cut comes while she is still noticing the impact of the pandemic on her ability to find freelance work.
She said: “I feel extremely nervous that this is happening now, because this pandemic is far from over.
“Life has not returned to normal for everyone.
“I’ve found myself already having to say yes to more in-person work than I’m comfortable with, and this cut will only add to that.
“As someone self-employed I’ve noticed there is definitely not as much work around, and it has also become even more unpredictable. The difference between good months and bad months financially has grown.
“Even with the uplift, Universal Credit is not enough to live on, and people deserve to do better than just scrape by.
“Whilst this won’t be the case for me, for many families this cut will mean choosing between feeding their family or heating their home this winter… people’s mental health will be severely affected.”
“I feel anxious”
A government spokesman said: “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit was temporary.
“It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.
“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work and it’s right that the Government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”
But Stacey, who did not want to give her surname, began claiming in March 2020 and therefore has not experienced UC without the temporary uplift.
The community worker from Bristol told PA: “Ironically part of my job is to support people to access welfare advice.
“People have been under a lot of pressure and key workers have really powered through… I’d like (the Government) to hear that the very people they were encouraging the community to clap for are the ones they are plunging into poverty.
“I feel anxious about how it will affect my family and also my community.
“I don’t know UC pre the ‘uplift’, so I’m losing £90 per month. That’s my gas and electricity bill.”
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?