Local charity urges Rishi Sunak to keep £20 universal credit uplift

CEO Carol Shreeve left with Volunteer Ann Goodburn before lockdown.

A local charity is urging the Chancellor and Richmondshire MP Rishi Sunak to keep the £20 per week uplift to households on universal credit.

The Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshire, which has offices in Richmond and Northallerton, said it had dealt with thousands of families that have found themselves in a “heat or eat” situation since the start of the pandemic.

The £20 boost was introduced by the government in April 2020 as a 12-month temporary measure to aid low-income families and to help people cope with the loss of income associated with the pandemic.

With April 2021 approaching, the charity said those receiving help needed it now more than ever.

Carol Shreeve, CEO of Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshire, said: “Every day our staff and volunteers speak to people whose lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic.

“Recent Citizens Advice research found that 7.3 million people were already behind with household bills in the UK and 1 in 6 of these people had found themselves unable to afford food.

“To lose the £20 uplift to Universal Credit and Tax credits would devastate local families. With a tough outlook in the jobs market, we’re urging the government to continue doing the right thing and maintain the Universal Credit uplift.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the charity said it had helped clients gain £3,759,468 in income and managed to get £402,448 of debt written off for them.

45% of people needing help have had a long-term health condition or a disability, with many having to self-isolate in rural areas of the region.

According to the latest DWP figures, the total Universal Credit caseload in Richmondshire rose 73 per cent since March.

As things stand, the charity says this means removing the £20 uplift could take around £6,200,000 out of the local economy.

For households in North Yorkshire the loss of £20 a week is equivalent to 3 days of food and almost 7 days of energy costs.

If you need help from Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshire call their free adviceline on 0808 278 7900 or visit https://citizensadvicehrs.org.uk/

Citizens Advice also runs a Help to Claim service which can support you with making a Universal Credit claim. For more information visit citizensadvice.org.uk or call 0800 144 8 444