Worrying new figures from the Trussell Trust foodbank network, based on polling by YouGov, have laid bare the fear felt by low-income households who say they’ve come to rely on the extra £20 a week for food and household bills.
According to the new figures, 1.2 million people (20%) claiming Universal Credit fear they will be forced to skip meals and 1.3 million (21%) say they will be unable to afford to heat their homes this winter.
The data also shows that nearly a million (900,000, 15%) are likely to become dependent on support from foodbanks in order to put food on the table.
The figures also suggest that Universal Credit claimants who live in regions of the UK targeted by the UK Government’s “leveling up” agenda will be among the hardest hit by the reduction in the monthly benefit payments.
For example, those living in the North East of England are nearly twice as likely to fear they won’t be able to heat their homes this winter, when compared to other Universal Credit claimants (30% vs. 21%).
They are also a third more likely than average to fear they will need to use a food bank (20% vs. 15%) and skip meals (28% vs 20%) if the cut goes ahead.
The cut could also have a damaging and unintended impact on Government efforts to get people back to work after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Polling shows that 15% (equal to 900,000 people) fear the reduction may result in them not having enough money to travel to work or attend important appointments, such as job interviews and/or medical appointments.
Commenting on today’s figures from the Trussell Trust, SNP MSP Neil Gray said: “Slashing Universal Credit is a political choice by the UK Tory government which will take food off the tables for thousands of families in Scotland who rely on it.
“This savage cut – branded the biggest overnight cut to social security since World War II – will have untold implications to those both in and out of work.
“It will mean working parents skipping meals and facing the harrowing choice of feeding their children or hearing their home.
“While the Tories must U-turn on this shameful decision, Westminster has shown its priorities could not be further from that of the SNP Scottish Government – which has put tackling poverty at the heart of its Programme for Government.”