Sheffield protest planned over removal of £20 per week from Universal Credit payments
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The money claimants receive was increased temporarily to help them weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic.
But ministers plan to start phasing out the increase from the end of September, based on individual claimants’ payment dates.
Sheffield is thought to have around 40,000 claimants and campaigners plan to protest outside the City’s Department for Work and Pensions base at Hartshead in the city centre at noon on Wednesday.
Sheffield Trade Union Council said it would be joining campaigners against poverty and welfare rights activists at the protest.
“We will be saying loud and clear we condemn this vicious £20 cut to Universal Credit which comes into effect today and will cause desperate hardship to Sheffield families already struggling on low or no pay,” said Martin Mayer, secretary of Sheffield Trade Union Council.
“Our welfare system is the meanest in Europe, and no other country has tens of thousands of citizens queuing at food banks to survive.”
He said the end of the extra £20 is expected to leave some families £1,000 per year worse off, while a rise in National Insurance payments for low paid workers could cost them £150. In addition fuel and inflation costs are also adding to the cost of living.
This is on top of the protestors’ concerns over the amount of time it takes for claims to go through, which they said leaves new claimants with no money.
Labour has claimed the cut would take £2.5 billion from the economies of the North of England and the Midlands.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has previously denied that ending the uplift would push more people into poverty.
A Government spokesman said: “As announced by the Chancellor at the Budget, the uplift to Universal Credit was always temporary.
“It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.
“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work, and it’s right that the Government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”