The government has cut universal credit by £20 a week, a move that is expected 500,000 people will be pushed into poverty.
Ministers introduced the £20-per-week increase at the start of the pandemic to support people through the crisis. But as Covid-19’s financial shockwaves continue to ripple through the population – and as furlough is axed, energy bills soar, living costs rise and wages stagnate – the government will scrap the increase, amounting to a loss of £1,040 per year each for the 5.5 million people relying on the benefit.
Universal credit covers everything from fuel bills, clothes, transport, toiletries, outstanding debt repayments, medication and much more for households on low incomes.
But for a family with two adults and two children, a week’s worth of food alone costs an average £99, according to the Office for National Statistics. Families on lower incomes spend a higher proportion of their incomes on essentials such as food.
The universal credit cut could force 1.2 million people to skip meals, according to the Trussell Trust, and food banks are expecting a surge in demand from October.
The Big Issue found out how much could be bought for a week with £20 at Asda. Other supermarkets are available.