Tower Hamlet locals have branded Government plans to cut the £20 a week universal credit Covid uplift as “cruel and unnecessary”.
Mick Patrick, member of a Tower Hamlets community support group on Facebook, told Eastlondonlines: “This [cut] could force many to further hunger, evictions and despair.”
The government has said that the extra £20 added to universal credit was to be withdrawn from October 6. A spokesperson told the BBC: “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to UC 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.”
Michelle Miah, 34, a mother-of-three who lives in Bethnal Green and relies on UC to support her family, told Eastlondonlines: “It’s ridiculous! Our money keeps going down, but prices for everyday items are inflating, not to mention the rise of council tax … the government should be raising our universal credit payments to keep up the with inflation of products, not making cuts.”
Paul Frame, another member of the Tower Hamlets community support group on Facebook, said: “The cut will simply affect many one way or another, and it’s as always those who are less fortunate and who come from deprived areas like Tower Hamlets, who suffer the most.”
Universal credit is claimed by more than 6 million people in England and over 35,000 of these people are from Tower Hamlets.
Throughout Tower Hamlets, the number of households on Universal Credit has increased by 127 per cent, from 16,526 households in February 2020 to 37,566 households in February 2021.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets reiterated his calls for the Government to scrap its plans to cut UC by £20 per week. He said: “Time is also running out for Boris Johnson to reverse his plans to cut Universal Credit.
“Taking £1,000 a year from millions of struggling families is shameful and will hurt many in Tower Hamlets.”
According to a recent survey by Save The Children only 35 per cent of those on Universal Credit are confident they’ll be able to make ends meet.
Boris Johnson in a BBC interview was asked if the decision to reduce benefits was final. He said: We think that the best thing we can do is to help people get into high-wage and high skilled jobs. Unemployment is falling rapidly, as jobs are being created and wages rising.”