Protesters out in Sheffield over ending of extra £20 Universal Credit payments
Angry campaigners took to Government offices in Sheffield to protest over the ending of £20 a week extra payments to Universal Credit claimants.
Around a dozen protestors gathered with banners outside the Department for Work and Pensions offices at Hartshead Square to call on the Government to keep paying the money to claimants.
The payments were brought in as a temporary measure during the pandemic, but ended yesterday.
Department for Work and Pensions figures show there were 47,946 people claiming Universal Credit in Sheffield in July – the latest available data.
Of those, 64 per cent were not in work.
Martin Mayer, secretary of Sheffield Trade Union Council, addressed the protest on the steps of the department.
He said: “It’s shocking. This is going to create real poverty and I think people will die as a result of it. We’ve already seen a massive increase in food banks throughout the pandemic as more and more people found themselves with less income. The Government knows it will hit the poorest and most vulnerable people in the community.”
Wendy Emmett, who is retired, is secretary of Unison’s community branch in South Yorkshire.
She said: “Many of the people on Universal Credit are working, but they’re working for such low wages they have to get paid benefits to make ends meet, to feed their families, to heat their houses. I’ve got friends on universal credit who are really going to suffer from this. I was talking to a friend on Friday, and he was saying he does not turn his heating on now. In the evening he just puts his duvet over him while he watches the television . He’s not able to pay for both food and heating.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit and the furlough scheme were temporary.
"They were designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and they have done so."
He said Universal Credit would continue to provide support for people in and out of work and added that it was right for the Government to focus on its Plan for Jobs, which aims to support people back into work and help those already working to progress.