We are urging the government against a cut to Universal Credit that would impact 1 in 7 working-age people in Cheshire West and Chester.

According to the latest available figures, approximately 39% of residents set to see their benefits drop are families with children and 41% are already in work.

Our staff and volunteers have helped 2,784 people with Universal Credit since March last year. The £20 a week increase has been a ‘lifeline’ and has supported people who were already struggling before the pandemic as well as those hit by Covid job losses.

A cut to the benefit this autumn – as energy bills rise with the colder weather – will see many struggle to afford their essential costs. A drop in income could be particularly difficult for new benefits claimants who may be unaware of the looming cut.

Linda Crosbie, Senior Help to Claim adviser, said: “That extra money makes the difference between choosing to put the heating on or eating a decent meal for the people we support. Many have lost jobs through no fault of their own and are still struggling to find work. The increase of £20 a week is absolutely essential for them to budget each month.”

Jason Bishop, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Cheshire West, said: “Every day, our staff and volunteers see the difference the increase to Universal Credit has made to families. It’s what has helped them keep their heads above water.

Without that extra money, we fear we’d see more people coming to us in debt, unable to pay their bills or turning to food banks because they can’t afford the essentials.

As we look to rebuild from Covid, the government must invest in the benefits system and keep this vital lifeline.”

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