County Durham mum says “it’s going to get harder” for her family as universal credit set to be cut

A County Durham mother says it is "going to get harder" for her to look after her family when the £20 universal credit uplift comes to an end on Wednesday (6 October).

Hannah from Newton Aycliffe works full-time and also receives Universal Credit. She says the uplift has helped her buy fresh produce like fruit and vegetables for her children.

Hannah says that the cut will also impact the ways in which she can pay her fuel bills.

She says, "With this uplift I've been able to set up a direct debit and managed to get into a little bit of credit which during the winter months is going to come in so handy.

"But once that credit has gone I will have to think about going back on to pre-payment and when you run out of money in the middle of the night it's a case of I've got two little kids what do I do, take them out in the middle of the night and I have had to do that in the past.

"I mean I am ok if I am in the house on my own, I can put on an extra jumper, but I've got to keep them warm. They don't understand that I can't put the heating on."

A recent study by professors at the University of York showed 3.4 million households – covering 6.3 million adults and children – will be unable to pay escalating gas and electricity bills this winter without cutting back on food bills.

The study also indicated 840,000 people have been thrust into fuel poverty this week following the gas and electricity price increases that came in on October 1.

The government has also come under sustained pressure over a major squeeze on living standards due to rising energy bills and price hikes in shops.

The move has been widely condemned by charities and opposition parties while many Conservative MPs are also deeply concerned about the impact on low-income families.

As revealed by ITV Tyne Tees, 46% of families in the North East will be affected when the scheme comes to an end.

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.

“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.”

When Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak address the Conservative Party conference on Monday, there was no suggestion of a U-turn - as ITV UK editor Paul Brand reported.

The temporary uplift was announced last year at the start of the pandemic to help those on benefits deal with the economic shock and financial disruption of Covid-19.

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