Universal Credit claimant sends message to Rishi Sunak
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Brahim Rarbi from Brent, London has publicly asked the Chancellor to “feel my pain” and stop the proposed changes to the benefits system.
In April 2020, Mr Sunak announced the Government would raise Universal Credit payments by £20 a week as part of a series of economic stimulus and support packages during the early days of the pandemic.
This uplift was originally going to end on March 31, 2021, but was moved back due to public pressure.
However, the Chancellor confirmed the £20 raise would come to an end by October during his Budget 2021 announcement in March.
When questioned about the cuts, Theresa Coffey MP, the Work and Pensions Secretary, reiterated the Government’s commitment to reducing the benefit payment.
She explained: “Ahead of October we will start communicating with the current claimants who receive the £20 to make them aware that it will be phased out and they will start to see an adjustment in their payments.”
Experts are warning this move by the Chancellor will plunge many Britons into further poverty, with The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) predicting that 500,000 people will be affected by the changes, including 200,000 children.
The poverty charity referred to the proposed changes to Universal Credit as the largest “overnight cut” to benefits since the beginning of the welfare state after the Second World War.
Universal Credit: Brahim Rarbi sharing his story (Image: ITV NEWS)
Many claimants, including Mr Rarbi, are now speaking out about their experiences and are calling on the Government to reconsider their stance regarding the cut.
Speaking to ITV News, the single father of four shared his experience over the past year dealing with both his redundancy and getting on benefits.
Mr Rarbi was made redundant just before the first lockdown in March 2020 and has been claiming Universal Credit to survive since that time.
When asked what he would like to say to Mr Sunak, Mr Rarbi replied: “I want to say to him, ‘Please, if you put your feet in my shoes, you’ll feel the (my) pain.
“‘You’ll feel how much single parents are struggling.’ A lot of people need that £20. It is hard.”
While he is keen to return to work, Mr Rarbi is unsure of when he will be able to “get back onto his own two feet” again while managing being a single father.
According to figures from Citizens Advice, the proposed cut to Universal Credit will impact nearly 6million people.
Despite the Government’s assertion that it wants people to leave benefits and return to the workforce, more than a third (38 percent) of those who will see their income hit are already in employment.
Universal Credit: How much are you entitled to? (Image: EXPRESS.CO.UK)
Some 16 percent of claimants are under 25, while around 1.9million families with children are set to have their income cut.
Kate Green, Senior Benefits Expert at Citizens Advice, claims that many current Universal Credit claimants are unaware of how they will be hit by the cut.
“Many people seeking our advice at the moment are unaware of an impending cut to their Universal Credit,” she explained.
“Understandably, when they realise their benefits are set to drop by £20 a week it causes a lot of anxiety.
Universal Credit: The £20 increase in UC will be rolled back by October (Image: GETTY)
“If you’re in this position, remember you are not alone and there is support available.
“As a first step, make sure you’re checking your online journal regularly so you know how much your benefits will reduce by and when.
“Citizens Advice is on hand to help you understand what the cut means and what you can do if you’re worried about making ends meet.”
Claimants concerned about the proposed changes will impact their income should reach out to organisations, such as Citizens Advice, for counsel and guidance.