Manchester City Council is calling on the Government to halt Universal credit changes which new analysis shows will cost people living in the city £60 MILLION a year.
Deputy Leader Cllr Bev Craig has written to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Therese Coffey urging her to reconsider the plan to remove the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift, which is set to be withdrawn from Wednesday 6 October.
Modelling carried out by the Council, detailed in a report to Resources and Government Scrutiny Committee which meets on Tuesday 12 October, suggests that the move will hit around 58, 339 households with a combined loss of benefits totalling £59.6m a year.
The Government introduced the £20 a week uplift in universal credit in April 2020 as a support measure for the most in need as the country went into lockdown and braced for the impacts of the pandemic.
But there is concern that the removal of this safety net at a time when living cost are rising, furlough is coming to an end and thousands face uncertainty over winter as the impacts of the pandemic continue will have a significant negative impact on those who have the least.
People receiving the lowest standard Universal Credit allowance, £344 a month, will see their payment slashed to just £257.33 - a cut of almost 25 per cent.
Manchester City Council is continuing to fund support for those struggling financially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic even where Government funding for this help has come to an end.
For example, it is continuing an extra £150 hardship payment to those most in need who are receiving Council Tax Support. So far in 2021/22 this has provided £5.9 million of aid to 40,000 Manchester people.
A £100,000 budget to help support carers has also been retained and is now funded by the Council.
Demand remains high for the Council’s Welfare Provision Scheme which had paid out more than £375,000 so far in 2021/22. It is projected to exceed its £600,000 budget and an extra £500,000 of contingency funding will be used.
The Council has also provided £1m funding for discretionary housing payments, adding to £1.969m provided by Government. As of the 22 September 2021, £1.968m had been paid out.
Councillor Bev Craig, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said:
"We are urging the Government to think again about this cut to Universal Credit which couldn’t come at a worse time and will have a serious impact on so many Mancunians and take £60m a year out of the city’s economy.
“£20 a week doesn’t sound much but when you think that this adds up to £1,040 a year you get a better idea of the crucial difference it makes to people who are struggling to cope. It’s not something people are spending on luxuries – it's helping pay for essentials such as food and fuel, especially as gas and electricity prices rises. No one should be forced to choose between putting food on the table or heating their home.
“As a Council we recognise that many people are still struggling from the economic impacts of the pandemic, and the growing cost of living, and are continuing to provide support. We would urge the Government to do the same and not take away this lifeline.”