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Sefton families will be among many hard-hit by Government’s planned Universal Credit cut

Cllr Trish Hardy
Cllr Trish Hardy

With just a month to go until Government plans to reduce Universal Credit by £20 a week are scheduled to come effect Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, has added her voice to the widespread concern about the cut and the effect it will have on Sefton families.

Working families

Cllr Hardy said: “A high proportion of households across Sefton, including many working families, rely on Universal Credit and this number has increased as a result of the pandemic and the effect it has had locally on jobs.

“If the Government goes ahead with its plans to cut Universal Credit by £20 next month it will be a disaster for those families many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet.”

Last week, 100 organisations, including charities, children’s doctors and public health experts wrote to the Prime Minister calling on him to abandon his Government’s plans to go ahead with the £20 reduction. Among the 100 signatories to the letter were Business in the Community which was founded by the Prince of Wales, Oxfam, Save the Children, the Trussell Trust, the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health, and the Conservative thinktank Bright Blue.

Analysis by Citizens Advice has shown that £20 a week is equivalent to six days of energy costs or three days of food costs for a low-income family. Separate academic research shows 63% of people supported the £20 increase during the pandemic, and 50% supported making it permanent.

Slashing

Cllr Hardy continued: “It has been estimated that by slashing Universal Credit by £20 each week or £1,040 per year, the Government is going to push around ½ million families across the country, including many in Sefton, into poverty.

“And we know that as well as the day-to-day strain it puts on individuals and families, poverty has the largest impact on infant mortality and during childhood, it is the first step to poor physical and mental health.

“During the pandemic more Sefton families have fallen falling into the absolute or relative low-income category and we have seen eligibility for free school meals rise.”

“Sefton has a high proportion of jobs that tend to be lower paid and even with the £20 increase in Universal Credit, working families have found themselves in poverty.

“Taking that money away from them next month represents a disaster, particularly when you consider the health issues these workers and their children will face and will make a mockery of any claims by the Prime Minister’s claim to be on the side of families.”

Emergency help

She added: “During the COIVID-19 pandemic Sefton Council has given out over 4,800 payments for emergency help and made over 2,700 Discretionary Housing Payments to help people struggling with rents and bills.

“Our website contains information for people on Universal Credit, benefits and a range of related topics including help with rent and Council Tax and the Borough’s Foodbank Network at www.sefton.gov.uk/advice-benefits”.