“Choosing between using the shower or the oven”: the harsh realities of the reduction in universal credit | Universal credit
More than 800,000 people are at risk of falling into poverty following a universal credit cut that took effect Wednesday, while 100,000 tenants in England face eviction.
The Resolution Foundation described him as the largest reduction in benefits overnight, and the government was warned that this would have a severe impact as it coincides with rising energy costs and food prices.
Four people who receive universal credit, including single parents and caregivers, explain how they will be affected.
‘I already find myself without money at the end of the month’
Georgia Bowden, a 26-year-old artist and single mother living in Bath, has received universal credit since the birth of her now two-year-old son. She is struggling to make ends meet even before the cut takes effect. “I am absolutely terrified. At the moment, I find myself without money at the end of the month, and it is with this increase. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t have Netflix, but I’m still running out of money. I want to work, but I can’t at the moment – I just take care of my son, it’s a full time job.
Bowden is concerned about the reduction coinciding with the onset of winter, especially amid rising fuel and food prices. “Life is going to cost more,” she said. Bowden has used food banks in the past, but is concerned about the lack of fresh food on offer.
“It’s good for pasta and stuff like that, but all you get is canned and processed stuff – you can’t live on it.” I want my son to be healthy. “
“The elevation allowed me to find a job”
Scott Edwards, a 46-year-old single father in Nottinghamshire, said the increase gave him access to better job opportunities. “I have a part-time job as a technical assistant, which I managed to get because the raise helped me travel to another city and find a better job,” Edwards said. The increase meant he could afford gasoline to get to work and buy a car from a charity. “It helped me get out of poverty. A mere £ 20 a week makes a huge difference in my life because I don’t have that much money anyway, but it got me out of debt.
As the sole guardian of his four-year-old daughter, Edwards is unable to devote more hours to making up the difference. “I’m at £ 9.60 an hour, but to earn that extra £ 20 I would actually have to work a whole day,” he said, due to the 63% reduction rate in the system. universal credit, which means that for every pound someone is paid on top of a working allowance, their benefit is reduced by 63p. “Due to my situation with custody of my child, this is not possible.
Edwards said the cut meant he would have to start using food banks again. “My daughter will be fine, I’ll be without it.” I have used food banks so much that they know me by name. It’s very embarrassing because of the way people look at you. I’m proud to be a single dad and make the right choices in my daughter’s life, but it feels like a huge step backwards.
“I have to choose between taking a shower and using the oven or the washing machine”
Peter, 52, from Caithness, Scotland, started receiving universal credit in 2019, after falling ill with sepsis after an accident. Unable to work, his relationship fell apart and he found himself homeless within six months. “I went to the Highland Council and they told me there was a five year waiting list for accommodation in Inverness so I had to move 100 miles from my family and friends.” , did he declare. He struggled to find work there due to the lack of job vacancies in the city. “It’s a gap between housing and employment. “
Peter, who had previously worked as an administrator, said the change in his situation was sudden. “I was a professional person with a home, a partner and a life. The wheels can come off very quickly for anyone. Life on universal credit is not a life at all – it is a barely tolerable existence.
The money will be even tighter after the cut. “After my overheads, which themselves are wiped out, I calculated that I will have £ 7.92 per day for food, toiletries, travel, clothing and life in general”, did he declare. “Each week I have to make some very basic choices, between taking a shower and using the oven or the washing machine.” As it arrives in the onset of winter, the reduction will be a “double whammy” with rising utility bills. “I have to try to stay employable, try to stay positive and communicative, but it crushes you. It’s exhausting.”
“We are barely surviving”
David Taylor, 45, has been on credit for four years and looks after his 75-year-old uncle. “He is severely disabled – he has Parkinson’s disease and dementia. He needs round-the-clock care because he cannot walk or talk. He needs help with bathing, dressing and eating, he has constant falls. I have not been able to leave my house for two years, I can only be delivered, I have no more life. It is inhuman and disgusting. How am I supposed to leave a severely disabled person alone to re-enter society?
Combined with soaring energy and food costs, the £ 20 cut will leave Taylor in dire straits. “We are barely surviving. Bills are about to go up – I started paying £ 120 a month, and it’s now £ 270. My weekly store has also doubled since the start of the pandemic. I’m going to have to miss meals.
Taylor fears that he will no longer be able to provide for his uncle. “I’m going to have to consider putting my uncle in a house against his will, which I don’t want to do.”