30,000 people in Fife could lose ‘lifeline Universal Credit top-up funding

More than 30,000 people in Fife could lose "lifeline" funding as the Government prepares to axe a pandemic-inspired benefits boost.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 12:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 8:10 am
More than 14,000 people in Falkirk could lose "lifeline" funding as the Government prepares to axe a pandemic-inspired benefits boost.

Since March 2020, Universal Credit claimants have been receiving an extra £20 a week to help them mitigate the financial impact of Covid-19.

Despite calls to make the uplift permanent, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed recently that it would be scrapped this autumn as it had always been intended as a temporary measure.

Data from the Department of Work and Pensions shows that in May, there were 36,186 Universal Credit claimants in Fife – 12,964 (36%) of whom were in employment.

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That figure has grown by 70% since February 2020 – shortly before the coronavirus pandemic hit – when there were 21,262 people in the area claiming the benefit.

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Six former Conservative work and pensions secretaries wrote to the Government in a bid to urge ministers to rethink the contentious cut, which is likely to impact nearly six million people in the UK.

Anti-poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation described the impending end of the uplift as a "terrible mistake" that would push half a million people below the breadline.

Paul Spencer, from mental health charity Mind, said the cuts, coupled with the "mental health consequences of the pandemic", could have a significant and long-term impact, adding: "Too many people are already struggling to stay afloat with the current rate, so it’s appalling that the UK Government is planning to cut it at this time.”He added: "We must keep the lifeline."

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