Removal of £20 Universal Credit uplift to affect hundreds of thousands of families across the region

It's claimed scrapping the weekly £20-top-up on Universal Credit at the end of next month will cause hardship for hundreds of thousands of families across the ITV Tyne Tees region. 

The government introduced it at the start of the first lockdown, insisting it was a temporary measure to help those hardest hit during the pandemic. 

But research by anti-poverty charities say it's sudden removal would see the biggest single cut to social security in more than seventy years. 

Analysis of the latest government data, seen exclusively by ITV News, suggests that 46% percent of families with children in the Tyne Tees region will be affected by the reduction in Universal credit - more than 268 thousand families in total.

Across our region, that means more than 279 million pounds a year that has been helping the poorest families is being taken away. Across the whole of Great Britain the figure is nearly £6 billion a year. 

Similar research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found more than a third of Universal credit claimants are in employment, and rely on the top up for essential spending.

However some feel it needs further thought.

One public policy think tank argues that the blanket £20 increase was flawed, and a more targeted approach should be introduced going forward... 

A spokesperson for Department for Work and Pensions told ITV News that "Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic. The temporary uplift is part of a £400 billion support package which continues beyond the ending of restrictions."