Universal Credit recipients ‘pushed beyond limits’ as benefit is cut

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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.

“Extremely nervous”

Shona Louise, a self-employed writer and theatre photographer, said the reduction will put her under pressure to cover the loss.

Shona Louise said she will need to ‘work beyond my limits’ to make up for the cut (Shona Louise)

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.”

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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.”

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