#KeepTheLifeline for people in North Tyneside
It’s vital that we keep the uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit
- At the beginning of the pandemic, Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit were temporarily increased by £20 a week. But the uplift is due to expire in April, meaning many people could be forced to go without basic essentials such as food or heating
- Over the course of the pandemic, North Tyneside Citizens Advice has helped 3,053 people with Universal Credit, and around 68% of people seeking advice on benefits are coming to us for the first time
- Keeping the lifeline beyond April and extending it to other benefits is the best way to help people pay their essential bills, to help them avoid debt, and to support a fairer economic recovery across North Tyneside
The uplift helps local residents to cover essential bills
19,361 more people are claiming Universal Credit across North Tyneside, and losing the £20 uplift would have a huge impact on their finances. For households in the North East this is the equivalent to almost 3 days of food or 6 and a half days of energy bills.
The uplift is also preventing people from being pulled into debt. Three quarters (75%) of the people Citizens Advice help with debt who receive Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit would be unable to cover their basic living costs if the uplift is removed. This could lead to disconnection from their energy supplier, or even eviction or homelessness.
The uplift supports people while job opportunities are limited
More and more people are working zero-hour or temporary contracts, with a 14% increase in April to June 2020 compared to 2019. Many of these people earn less than half as much per week as the average worker, meaning that they have to claim Universal Credit to top up low wages.
Job opportunities are also becoming rarer, with 31% fewer vacancies during September to November than the year before. In a recent poll commissioned by Citizens Advice, 55% of people on Universal Credit who were seeking work said that they were not confident they could find a job or increase their earnings in the next 3 months.
Keeping the uplift will help support people as they search for work, and allow time for job creation programmes like Kickstart to create the opportunities people need to get back on their feet.
The uplift keeps money in the local economy
The Universal Credit uplift represents £18.1 million in potential spending across North Tyneside. This money is needed to stimulate the local economy – every pound borrowed to pay for essentials now will be a pound plus interest lost in future spending.
Decisive action now can help us build back better. The most deprived neighbourhoods have seen the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits increase at over twice the rate of the least deprived. The uplift supports a faster and fairer recovery for those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.