Advertisement - Content continues below
Social Justice

‘Do it for the children’: Families plead with Sunak to reverse universal credit cut

Texts for the chancellor were displayed in Westminster after disabled people said they will be forced to skip meals due to the universal credit cut.

Nearly a third of disabled claimants relying on universal credit – around a million people – say they are “very likely” to have to skip meals or go without heating this winter.

More than one in five households with full-time carers also reported similar concerns over affording the essentials in the colder months following the universal credit cut, which reduced 5.2 million people’s incomes by £1,040 per year.

The Big Issue previously heard that food banks are facing the biggest crisis of the pandemic so far this winter with a record-breaking surge in demand expected.

In anonymous texts sent to the Trussell Trust and displayed on a mobile screen stationed outside Westminster, claimants described the impact of reduced payments and pleaded with the chancellor to reinstate the £20 increase. 

“Poverty grinds away at your self-esteem and makes children feel worthless,” one person wrote. “Can you imagine not being able to take your child to the park because you can’t afford a bus fare?”

The food bank network worked with YouGov to survey more than 2,000 adults who were claiming universal credit in August.

Advertisement - Content continues below
Advertisement - Content continues below

Another text read: “As a full-time carer I can’t work. Energy prices and rising food prices will make this a really difficult time for many. It doesn’t make economic sense to make this cut.” 

The government cut universal credit on October 6 in what the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said was the biggest overnight cut to social security since the Second World War.

Subscribe to The Big Issue

From just £3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work. With each subscription we invest every penny back into supporting the network of sellers across the UK. A subscription also means you'll never miss the weekly editions of an award-winning publication, with each issue featuring the leading voices on life, culture, politics and social activism.

“It’s clear what a devastating impact this cut is going to have on millions of people,” Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said.

“It’s wrong that so many people in our country will now be forced to decide between putting food on the table and switching the heating on.

“Everyone deserves to be able to afford the essentials in life. We all need the security and stability of a strong lifeline, not just during a national crisis, but every day.”

Ministers ignored a fierce campaign by activists, MPs and former Tory welfare ministers to keep the £20-per-week increase, introduced at the start of the pandemic to support people through the crisis. Campaigners are now shifting their focus to pressuring the government into reversing the cut before people are pushed further into poverty during what Keir Starmer said could be a “bleak winter”.

Stop Mass Homelessness

Help us stop mass homelessness

Unless we act, the UK is facing a homelessness crisis 
this autumn.

Rishi Sunak will set out the government’s spending plans in the budget next week. One texter wrote: “Please Mr Chancellor, I urge you to reconsider your removal of the £20 uplift for the sake of my family and many other families like mine who will be plunged below the poverty line as a result.

“Do it for the children who deserve a brighter future. Do it for the parents who go to bed every night agonising how they’re going to face tomorrow. And please, do it because your moral compass knows the devastation and heartache this will cause for so many.”

Advertisement - Content continues below

Support The Big Issue and our vendors this Christmas

Every time you buy a copy of The Big Issue, subscribe or donate, you are helping our vendors to work their way out of poverty by providing 'a hand up not a hand out.' You’re helping Big Issue vendors achieve their #BigWish

Recommended for you

Read All
Low-income families in Scotland to receive £20 per week from April
welfare system

Low-income families in Scotland to receive £20 per week from April

Kitmas campaign will give football shirts to thousands of children in poverty this Christmas
Charity

Kitmas campaign will give football shirts to thousands of children in poverty this Christmas

These are the charities helping refugees in the UK
Refugees

These are the charities helping refugees in the UK

MPs join calls for Windrush compensation scheme to be taken off Home Office
Windrush Scandal

MPs join calls for Windrush compensation scheme to be taken off Home Office

Most Popular

Read All
Video showing Boris Johnson repeatedly 'lying' to parliament hits 40 million views
1.

Video showing Boris Johnson repeatedly 'lying' to parliament hits 40 million views

Legacy benefits freeze left disabled people living on ‘historically’ low payments, court hears
2.

Legacy benefits freeze left disabled people living on ‘historically’ low payments, court hears

'Noel Gallagher was mega hungover and Will.i.am kept walking off' - The stories behind Big Issue photoshoots
3.

'Noel Gallagher was mega hungover and Will.i.am kept walking off' - The stories behind Big Issue photoshoots

Plans to remove British citizenship without notice 'would repeat Windrush mistakes'
4.

Plans to remove British citizenship without notice 'would repeat Windrush mistakes'

Support The Big Issue and our vendors this Christmas