£20 benefit cut would have 'massive impact', says North East mum

A single mother of three from the North East has called on the government to extend the Universal Credit £20 increase after the temporary payment expires in April.

The government raised the benefit to help around six million families make ends meet during the Covid pandemic. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson instructed his Conservative MPs to abstain from a vote on the matter in the House of Commons on Monday night.

Tina Mhiri, from Hebburn, told ITV News Tyne Tees any cut to the payment will have a "massive impact on my income".

Tina said, "They need to look at this situation again because it is going to make people worse off."

Tina is currently supported by the Hebburn Helps Foodbank. Founder, Angie Comerford, told ITV News "That little bit extra can go on gas and electric, because it’s a lot colder now. Kids are at home so you’re spending a lot more on food so it would be, it wouldn’t be pleasant if they want to take that off them now".

According to official figures there were 269,796 households in the North East and North Yorkshire who were receiving Universal Credit in August last year.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggests if the £20 uplift is scrapped in April, it could plunge half a million more people into poverty, including 200,000 children. The organisation also suggests it would leave the 500,000 people already living in poverty in greater hardship.

Tory MPs have been instructed to abstain from a vote on extending an uplift in Universal Credit, saying a decision has not yet been made on whether the increase should continue.

The prime minister is under significant pressure to extend the £20-a-week uplift. Labour is hoping it can force Boris Johnson into extending the uplift with a Commons vote on the issue in the form of an Opposition Day debate. The government may wait until the March budget before announcing a decision on the matter.

During a visit to a vaccination centre in Oxford, the Prime Minister would not commit either way.