Weston families may 'skip meals' after Universal Credit cut

Weston families to miss meals due to Universal Credit cut

The Trussell Trust believes families will skip meals as a result of stopping Universal Credit's £20-per-week uplift. - Credit: Trussell Trust

Families across Weston will "skip meals" as a result of the Government's decision to stop its Universal Credit uplift, according to the Trussell Trust charity.

A £20-per-week uplift was introduced during the start of lockdown to support unemployed, furloughed and low-income workers but this will be scrapped next month.

The Trussell Trust, which supports Weston Foodbank, on North Street, has told the Mercury that the cuts will have a devastating impact on residents.

More than 10,000 Weston residents to lose money due to Universal Credit cut.

More than 10,000 Weston residents depend on Universal Credit. - Credit: Trussell Trust

Chief executive, Emma Revie said: "Cutting this lifeline will be a devastating blow for thousands of people across the South West already struggling to make ends meet.

"These are families already caught in impossible situations who worry every day about switching on the heating and feeding their children. Families who are nearly at breaking point but just about managing to keep their heads above water."

In Weston, 10,959 people claim Universal Credit with 4,634 of these, 42.3 per cent, currently employed.

Weston Foodbank's project manager expects many of these to depend on its services once the cuts take effect.

Weston Foodbank feed thousands of children during lockdown.

The foodbank experienced a spike in demand during the Covid pandemic. - Credit: Weston Foodbank

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Frederique Wigmore said: "We have been operating for 10 years and the demand for our services has grown every year to reach just under 7,000 people last year.

"2020-2021 was exceptional with demand over the first three months of the pandemic being more than double compared to the same period the year before.

"However, there is no doubt that the increase in demand would have been even more exacerbated without the Universal Credit increase.

"This provided a breathing space for the individuals and families who are constantly battling to stay above the bread line."

The cuts coincide with the recent announcement that Boris Johnson would break the Conservative Party manifesto and introduce a 1.25 percentage point rise in National Insurance - equivalent to roughly a 10 per cent tax hike depending on earnings.

For more information on how to support Weston Foodbank or to gain access to its services, log on to www.westonsupermare.foodbank.org.uk

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