A single mum said extending the £20 boost to Universal Credit for just six months is a “kick in the teeth” for hard-pressed families.
Rishi Sunak today confirmed that the Universal Credit supplement will stay until September.
But he resisted calls to make the change permanent, meaning Universal Credit claimants could see a drop in income of £85 a month in the autumn.
Speaking shortly after Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget announcement, Rebecca, from the east of England, said she was “disappointed” to hear the monthly allowance would only carry on until autumn.
“Anybody can see that people are struggling so he [Sunak] had to do something – but he’s done the very bare minimum that he could’ve done,” she told The Mirror.
“On the one side great, for six months I’ve got £80 in my bank extra that I can feed my daughter with, maybe feed myself with and maybe use to pay towards some bills and stuff.
“But in reality what that means is just more limbo for me, more unknown – and six months isn’t very long.”
Mr Sunak addressed the Commons on Wednesday to announce his budget plans as the country grapples with the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
While talking about what benefits would stay in place, the Chancellor said the £20 benefit would be extended for six months.
But the announcement enraged hard-pressed parents and charities, who said the measures don’t go far enough to ensure all families are protected.
Rebecca, who is currently studying to get a degree in psychology and counselling, previously told The Mirror the weekly allowance is “the difference between being able to buy food and not buy food”.
She said she’s desperately been trying to find a job so she can help provide for herself and her eight-year-old daughter, but the job crisis that came with the pandemic means she still hasn’t had any luck.
“The problem with looking for work is that whereas I may have gone for a cafe job and there’d be 10 people going for it, now I’m going for a cafe job and there are like 100 other people going for it. Everyone in the world is looking for a job.
“And it’s not just me personally but a vast amount of the population are in this really tricky situation,” she said.
The mum-of-one said Mr Sunak should at the “very minimum” extend the allowance for another year as that would allow families to save in time for when it’s cut.
But she said saving anything right now is a “pipe dream” as money is so tight.
“I don’t have much space for saving and protecting my future, that’s why it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth.”
Rebecca said all the new measures do is “extend the inevitable”.
“If they took away the £20 I’d be struggling to know how to budget for food, heating and clothing – taking away the six months is exactly the same, just six months later,” she added.
Save the Children’s CEO Kevin Watkins said they were “disappointed” to hear the Chancellor only intends to extend the scheme for six months.
A statement from the charity said: “Families tell us they rely on the uplift to help them pay for food, bills and other essential items for their children.
“Taking this lifeline away could be the difference between children having enough food to eat or having to go without meals.
“This pandemic is far from over, and we know that families need long-term support that allows them to plan and budget effectively.
“Extending the uplift for the next year would provide families with more certainty about their incomes and help support the economy through the difficult year ahead.”