- Local charity says 50% of people seeking its advice on benefits have never needed its support before
- Number of people claiming Universal Credit in Harrogate has risen 81% since the lockdown measres began
A local charity has warned of the “devastating impact” of a scheduled cut to Universal Credit in April.
Staff and volunteers at Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate Districts have helped 551 people with Universal Credit since March last year. Around 50% of people in the Harrogate District seeking its advice on benefits have never contacted the charity before.
Advisers say many needing support from the benefits system have lost their job or suffered a drop in income as a result of the pandemic.
Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate Districts, which has continued to provide one-to-one support throughout the pandemic, warns that local families could be pushed into further hardship if the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift ends as planned in April.
In Harrogate the number of people claiming Universal Credit has risen 81% since the pandemic started. For households in Harrogate the loss of £20 a week is equivalent to 3 days food and almost 7 days Energy Costs.
One adviser at Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshire told us “The extra £20 a week has helped people just about keep their heads above water, and I mean that in the most serious sense. It often makes the difference between empty cupboards and food on the table or being able to heat their homes’
Edward Pickering, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate Districts, said:
We support people every day whose lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic. For many of them, Universal Credit is the lifeline that has helped pay the bills and put food on the table.
But households across Harrogate now face the devastating prospect of a £20 a week cut to their benefits in just a few short months.
With a tough outlook in the jobs market, we’re urging the government to continue doing the right thing and maintain the Universal Credit uplift.
If you need help from Citizens Advice Craven and Harrogate Districts please call 0808 278 7900 or visit https://cachd.org.uk/
Citizens Advice also runs a Help to Claim service which can support you with making a Universal Credit claim. For more information visit citizensadvice.org.uk or call 0800 144 8 444