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Councillors demand review of Universal Credit as thousands struggle

Published: 19 October 2021

Councillors demand review of Universal Credit as thousands struggle Councillors demand review of Universal Credit

Councillors have backed a motion urging the Government to review the payment of Universal Credit and called for an increase in levels to match rising living costs.

The motion, brought by Deputy Council Leader Laura Wright, was backed at full Council after a lengthy discussion on the hardship thousands in Exeter are currently facing.

The motion called for:

  • Government to conduct an urgent review into the payment levels of Universal Credit in relation to the rise in food costs, fuel costs, rent  increases and in the light of the removal of the £87 per month uplift afforded during the first tranche of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • A raise in payment levels in line with the ongoing inflated costs of food, fuel and rents.

The motion noted that more than 5.8 million people nationally claim Universal Credit and 40% are in work. In Exeter 8,118 people claim Universal Credit, of which around 43% are in work.

The Rountree Foundation has warned that the Government’s withdrawn of the £20 week uplift will plunge half a million more people into poverty, including 200,000 children.

During the debate, councillors said rapidly rising fuel costs would cause extra hardship and would particularly affect people on pre-payment meters.

Rents are also increasing, meaning those of universal credit are struggling to afford the cost of living in the city.

Cllr Wright said many families in Exeter were facing a stark choice on whether to pay their bills or buy food for their children, as the use of foodbanks in the city continues to grow.

The motion added that the Council believes:

  • To withhold essential financial help to more than 5.8million Universal Credit claimants will have disastrous negative implications on health and well-being, education, community well-being and the economy.
  • The situation will then create increased financial burden on the Treasury to mitigate against these implications.

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