‘Perfect storm’ warning as MPs set to debate Universal Credit cut
Citizens Advice is sounding the alarm on the impact of a cut to Universal Credit with MPs expected to debate ending the £20-a-week increase today (Wednesday 15 September).
Previous research from the charity shows that 2.3 million people receiving Universal Credit will be pushed into the red by the cut. It warns people are one and a half times more likely to claim Universal Credit in areas the government has prioritised for levelling up.
Analysis of Citizens Advice data published today highlights the precarious state of people’s finances heading into the autumn:
Referrals for further charitable support have surged. Advice on grants and in-kind support - including for furniture, clothes and toiletries - is up 91% compared to summer 2019. Referrals to food banks are up 30% on last summer
Increasing worries about income. The charity’s webpage on how much Universal Credit people will receive has had 50% more page views this summer than last summer. Views of its debt advice webpage on increasing your income rose to their highest-ever level this August.
Increasing fuel debt problems as an energy price rise looms. The number of people Citizens Advice helps with fuel debt has risen over the pandemic, and they're often facing other debts too. Their situation will be worsened as maximum energy prices increase by well over £100 a year for both default tariffs and prepayment meter customers in October.
Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Millions are headed for an incredibly tough autumn.
“Families still struggling with the impact of the pandemic face a barrage of fresh challenges including the cut to Universal Credit, the end of furlough, and a sharp rise in energy prices.
“Against this backdrop, keeping the £20 increase to Universal Credit is the single best way of protecting people from a perfect storm.”
Notes to editors
- Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
- Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and post. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.
- The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for prosecution and defence witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.
- Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.
- Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
- To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
- For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 to talk in Welsh.
- We helped 2.6 million people face to face, by phone, email and webchat in 2017-18. For service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
- Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.