760,000 Brits ‘Could Fall Into Poverty’ If Universal Credit Cuts Go Ahead

By Rachael Grealish

A massive 760,000 Brits could fall in to poverty if the £20 Universal Credit cut goes ahead, according to a new study.

A study from the Fabian Society, a think tank affiliated with the Labour Party, has found that the households that would be hit hardest by these potential benefits cuts include those with disabled adults, carers, and families with children — meaning a potential increase in child poverty.

In April 2020 one of the government responses to the coronavirus pandemic was to add £20 a week onto universal credit payments becoming a lifeline for many.

While benefits are typically associated with unemployment support, the findings of the study, published on Tuesday February 16, revealed that of the 760,000 people who face poverty if the additional £20 is cut, 94 percent are living in working or disabled households.

In the analysis it said: “Planned cuts to universal credit will overwhelmingly hit working families and disabled people who are not required to seek work.

“Half the cuts (£3.2bn) will fall on households where at least one adult is in work. A further 37 percent of the value of the cuts (£2.4bn) will hit non-working households where at least one adult is disabled.

“Just 13 per cent of the cuts (£800m) will hit non-working, non-disabled households.”

In total, the cuts could amount to some of the poorest households in the UK losing £1,050 a year, a reduction of £6.4 billion annually from six million families across the country – as published on Global Citizen.

Should the government follow through on the cuts, it would happen around the same time that the furlough scheme ends in April 2021.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has predicted that unemployment could rise to 7.5 percent by the middle of the year.

“If ministers cut universal credit this April, they will overwhelmingly punish working families and disabled people,” said Andrew Harrop, the Fabian Society’s general secretary. “People in these groups have shown huge resilience during the pandemic and have done nothing to deserve this.”

“Some politicians like to pretend that social security is just for the workshy,” he added.

“But the reality is that millions of working households need benefits and tax credits to make ends meet, as do disabled people who are out of work through no fault of their own.”

Harrop continued: “If ministers are considering a few months’ temporary extension to the universal credit uplift, that just isn’t good enough. The 2020 benefit increase must be placed on a permanent footing.”

However, it is currently not certain whether the government will actually scrap the £20-a-week increase or not.

A spokesperson from the UK government said: “We are committed to supporting the lowest-paid families and those most in need through the pandemic, which is why we’re spending hundreds of billions to safeguard jobs, boosting welfare support by billions, and have introduced the £170 million COVID-19 winter grant scheme to help children and families stay warm and well-fed during the coldest months.”