The universal credit cut could mean the difference between “affording the rent or becoming homeless” according to Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue.
The government will reduce the benefit by £20-per-week for around 5.5 million people this week. Payments were boosted at the start of the pandemic to support people through the pandemic but will now return to pre-Covid levels, amounting to a £1,040 annual income loss for claimants just as furlough ends and living costs soar.
It could trigger a “mass homelessness crisis”, Lord Bird warned as he urged ministers to stop the cut.
“4.3 million people are behind on household bills and 564,000 people are in rent arrears,” he said. “We have reached the cliff edge of a mass homelessness crisis.
“The end of furlough has already put over a million people not only at risk of losing their jobs, but also their homes. £20 a week could be the difference between affording the rent or becoming homeless.”
The universal credit reduction will be the biggest overnight cut to social security since the Second World War, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.