Mat Surtees and his partner Natasha are just two of around six million people in the UK who will lose their £20 a week Universal Credit uplift in October, seeing their household income fall by £86 a month
Image: Mat Surtees)
A couple have been left wondering how they will afford to heat their home or give their little girl a Christmas as they prepare to have their Universal Credit uplift torn away.
Mat Surtees and his partner Natasha are just two of around six million people in the UK who will lose their £20 a week Universal Credit uplift in October, seeing their household income fall by £86 a month.
Mr Surtees, 40 has needed help to make ends meet since losing his job at Taco Bell in his home city of Plymouth, after he was made redundant from a job in a call centre, PlymouthLive reports.
Since then, he has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and is also a carer for his partner, 34, who has visual impairment, and their three-year-old daughter Amelia.
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The couple are now trying to juggle their household budget to make sure they have enough money put by to heat their home and put food on the table, as well as try to give their daughter a good Christmas.
He said the uplift meant they could provide extra activities with their daughter while her nursery was closed, and provided an extra security blanket as they endured lockdown.
He said: “It just enabled us not to worry too much about the bills, it took the pressure off. Now we are going to be £86 a month worse off.
“Are we still going to be able to do the things we want to do with Amelia, and heat our home, especially with the energy crisis going on? Are we going to be able to get the food we need, and pay the bills, especially with the winter coming?
“It certainly is a worry, and I hope it doesn’t get to that. My partner is writing lists and making sure we save enough money to pay for this bill and that bill, and have enough money for food and Christmas.”
More than a third of the almost six million people on Universal Credit nationally are in work.
The system was rolled out by the government to replace a series of other benefits, bringing together support for income with housing and childcare costs into a single payment.
The £20 a week uplift was brought in at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 for a year and was extended in March this year, but is due to end by October.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has shown no signs of reversing plans for the £20 reduction, suggesting it could only be kept if paid for by tax hikes.
In comments made during his US trip, he said he had “every sympathy” for those toughing it out on benefits, but that the £5-6 billion required to make the additional weekly payments permanent would have to “come out of some people’s pockets”.
The government has said the uplift was always meant to be temporary, and one minister said the reduction equalled two hours’ work for those in employment.
The cut also comes as Boris Johnson refused to say whether he could live on the usual Universal Credit payment.
The Prime Minister was asked if he could get by on just £118 a week – the standard UC allowance for a couple over 25 after UC is slashed next month.
It came as he again snubbed calls to maintain the £20-a-week rise for six million of the poorest families – despite mounting warnings of looming hardship and poverty.