Universal Credit alert: Cut may mean millions are left without 'acceptable' living income

Susanna Reid grills Trevelyan on Universal Credit cuts

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Universal Credit payments are important to millions of people who are out of work, on a low income, or unable to work. The benefit overseen by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was provided with a boost equivalent to £20 per week due to the impacts of the pandemic. However, the move was only a temporary measure, and the payment is set to be slashed in mere months. 

Resistance, though, has been shown to the cut, and now research has illustrated the potential consequences of lowering the sum.

A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has warned millions of families could be left with just over half the income required for an “acceptable standard of living”.

Research carried out by The Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University on the JRF’s behalf uncovered some staggering realities.

It posed an amount, based on public opinion, of what everyone needs for an acceptable living standard – dubbed the Minimum Income Standard (MIS).

READ MORE: Pension ‘quirk’ means some may be able to boost income by 75 percent

Universal Credit cut

Universal Credit alert: Cut may mean millions are left without ‘acceptable’ living income (Image: Getty)

But the research showed a cut to Universal Credit would reduce the value of out-of-work benefits to their lowest recorded levels when compared to what the public believes to be an acceptable income.

It is estimated approximately two million people in out of work households are likely to live on incomes below half of the MIS if the Universal Credit cut goes ahead.

The MIS for a working age couple with two children has been calculated at £482 per week.

This figure, though, excludes paying rent or a mortgage, alongside council tax and childcare responsibilities.

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For a working age couple without children, the figure drops slightly to £356.

And for single working age adults who also do not have children, the MIS is set at £213.

The research found a cut to Universal Credit would reduce the support to 55 percent of MIS for a couple with two young children.

This would be lowered to just 33 percent of MIS for a single person of working age who does not have children.

Universal Credit UK

Universal Credit UK: What is Universal Credit? (Image: EXPRESS)

As a result, the JRF is now calling for the Universal Credit uplift to be made permanent to protect families.

It has also called upon the Government to extend this measure to those who are on the older “legacy” benefits.

Iain Porter, Policy and Partnerships Manager, commented on the matter, and said: “It is deeply concerning that millions of households across our country are having to live on incomes that fall so far short of what the public thinks is needed for a minimum standard of living.

“Social security should be strong enough for all of us when we need a lifeline, but cuts and freezes in recent years have left it to wear thin and threadbare.

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“We urgently need to restore public confidence by investing in adequate social security support for families when they need it.”

As planned, the cut to Universal Credit is currently schedule for the end of September. 

Referring to the removal of the £20 uplift, a Treasury spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “The temporary Universal Credit uplift was brought in to support those with the lowest incomes during the pandemic. 

“Now that restrictions are ending it is right that the Government should focus its support – through our multi-billion-pound Plan for Jobs – to help people learn new skills to progress in their career, increase their hours or find new work.”

William Murphy

William Murphy

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