Universal credit, the lifeline that is about to disappear

For nearly 6 million people across the UK, universal credit is an essential lifeline. But at just £257.33 a month for a single claimant under the age of 25, it was never much. I would struggle week in week out to pay my food, heating, transport costs, mobile, and TV on just over £59 a week -especially since some of my rent would have to come out of this as well.


Who wouldn’t.


Which is why the Government’s decision to increase universal credit by £20 every week, in response to the pandemic was so welcome. Nearly a third more income for the most vulnerable in society – and all money that goes straight back into our local shops and highstreets.


From October, this increase will end, and while there is logic to the Government’s decision to end the temporary increase, the actual impact is likely to be desperately severe.


And young people, including those supported by LandAid-funded charities, will not be immune from this impact, with those eligible for the support starting at just 16 years.


Currently, nearly 6 million people across the UK benefit from universal credit. The payment is received monthly and is usually for those on a low income or may be out of work. It has become ever-more important for many due to pressures caused by the pandemic.


Across the political spectrum, and with a growing body of careful evidence to support them, voices are being raised to call on the Government to reconsider this decision.


At LandAid we believe that everyone should have a safe and secure place to call home. Of course this means having four walls around us and a roof over our heads, but it also means freedom from poverty. The ability to lead a good life with some dignity. Enough food. Warmth. The means to keep in touch. An occasional treat. These are all critical to health, wellbeing, the chances of happiness, and the ability to gain employment.


Few of us could cope with 30% of our weekly income disappearing. Those amongst us on the lowest incomes are the most vulnerable and should be protected.


It is essential to have a social security system that gives people strength and stability – and especially those for whom we fundraise – young people facing homelessness.


That is why we have joined together with over 50 other youth homelessness organisations across the UK in signing an open letter to the Prime Minister to urge the government to keep the lifeline, and to not go ahead with the planned £20-a-week cut.


Just as we ask you to step out and step up as #Steptober kicks off, so we ask you to keep the conversation going and keep the pressure on! Use #KeepTheLifeline


Find out more here