'It's like punching a brick wall' - What ending Universal Credit uplift means for families

ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand reports on the impact rising costs and the scrapping of the Universal Credit uplift will have on families across the country.

The £20 Universal Credit uplift that many families across the country have relied upon to help make ends meet since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic will come to an end on Wednesday.

Many hoped Chancellor Rishi Sunak would announce in his speech at the Tory party conference that he would scrap the planned cut, but they were disappointed when he indicated the cut would go ahead, leaving them worrying about putting food on the table and making ends meet.

One of those left feeling anxious was single father-of-four Brahim Rarbi who said feeding his children everyday is a struggle.

Mr Rarbi spends 29 hours a week constructing kitchen cabinets for his day job and caring for his four children as a lone parent feels like another job.

He says it’s Universal Credit that helps him make a living.

“I’m everything, I’m a hairdresser, cook, chef, everything. I can’t give up, because of my kids. I love them and I’d do everything for them,” he told ITV News.

“I feel down, really, really down, because I’m trying my best, (I) keep working, and keep working and keep working, and in the end you feel tired, because you’re not going anywhere, it’s like you’re punching this wall,” he added.

A growing number of families across the country would find the situation Mr Rarbi is in very familiar.

Data shared with ITV’s News shows that the number of working people in poverty has risen dramatically over the past decade, going up by around 200,000 each year on average.

Now, that number is at 8,280,860 people in total.

And fears are growing that this number will only increase when the latest food, fuel and tax hikes have been factored in.

“It does mean that for those people who are on the edge of just about managing, that they may well fall below the poverty line”, Claire McNeil from the Institute for Public Policy Research told ITV News.

Speaking to ITV's Good Morning Britain Chancellor Rishi Sunak said 'the best way to provide people with the help and support they need is to double down on our plan for jobs'

With costs rising and only continuing to climb further, many families like Mr Rarbi’s know only one thing for certain - when one day ends, the next will be harder.

Even for those with businesses, the uncertainty is the same, as many are finding that work no longer pays.

The owner of a dry cleaning business, Ahmad Jawad, told ITV News that the rising cost of chemicals means his business now turns a loss.

“If I cannot afford my own living cost, then what’s the point of me doing business”, Mr Jawad said.

“Imagine if somebody keeps reaching in your pocket and takes a little bit more and more and more, so how does it feel?” he questioned.

Speaking on Tuesday, Boris Johnson defended the £20 a week cut to Universal Credit, arguing that the taxpayer should not subsidise low wages through the benefits system.

The prime minister said there was a £500 million hardship fund, an increase in childcare provision, an increase in the local housing allowance and warm homes discount to help people who were struggling.

But on the Universal Credit cut, he said: “What we won’t do is take more money in tax to subsidise low pay through the welfare system.”