93,000 in the East will skip meals if Credit is cut
93,000 people in the East of England fear they will be forced to skip meals if UK government cuts Universal Credit payments this October says the Trussell Trust – the Christian charity behind many of the foodbanks across the country.
Furthermore, 88,000 people in East Anglia fear being unable to heat their homes this winter and 49,000 say they’ll need to use a food bank if the cut goes ahead, according to new report by the Trussell Trust.
Today (October 8), the Trussell Trust publishes a new survey that lays bare the devastating impacts that a £20-a-week cut from Universal Credit payments next month will have for people living in the East of England.
This is the biggest overnight cut to social security since the Second World War and will be a huge blow for thousands of families in the region both in and out of work.
New research conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Trussell Trust* finds that 1 in 5 people currently claiming Universal Credit in the region – representing 93,000 people – say they are ‘very likely’ to need to skip meals when the cut hits. Furthermore, 1 in 6 of people surveyed in the East of England – representing 88,000 people – told researchers they would struggle to heat their homes this winter if their income is slashed in October.
Worryingly, 10% of people surveyed from the area – representing 49,000 people – also say they are very likely to be forced to a food bank if the cut is introduced next month.
The Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of more than 1,300 foodbank centres, is part of a coalition of 100 organisations that is urgently calling on the UK government to stop the cut as part of the Keep the Lifeline campaign.
The cut comes amid growing need at foodbanks throughout the charity’s network during the pandemic, as well as year-on-year increases in numbers of emergency food parcels distributed to people who are living in crisis.
The charity says this is not right and the vast majority of the UK public agrees. The research finds only one in five members of the UK public surveyed believes that social security provided enough support to people with physical and/or mental health conditions, which affect most people visiting food banks.
The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie says it doesn’t have to be like this and is urging the public to write to local MPs calling on them to take action and keep the £20-a week lifeline.
She said: “Cutting this lifeline will be a devastating blow for thousands of people across the East of England 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.
“This research reveals the shocking consequences of what lies ahead if this lifeline is cut in October. No one should have to suffer the indignity of not being able to afford the essentials in life – like food or heating. That’s why we’re saying it would be wrong of the UK government to take away £20 a week from already precarious incomes and push even more people through the doors of food banks.
“The answer must be to ensure our social security system provides people with enough money to cover the essentials. At the very least we’re saying this October, the UK government must choose to protect people and choose to keep the lifeline."
Hannah Worsley, Norwich Foodbank Project Manager, said they have had people come to them for the first time because of the pandemic: “More than half of referrals are now stating low income - they are saying they don’t have enough to make ends meet,” she said. "We have got a lot of people coming to us saying they never expected to use a foodbank - many used to donate to us."
While the number of people asking for support from the Norwich Foodbank had dropped from the pandemic peak, Hannah warned it was likely to rise again. “Going into winter we have got Covid, the end of furlough and the Universal Credit cuts, they could all bring about more demand."