Citizens Advice Dorset is warning of the ‘devastating impact’ of a scheduled cut to Universal Credit in April, arguing that since the pandemic began, the number of people in Dorset claiming has risen by 97 per cent. This compares to 93 per cent nationally.
Staff and volunteers have helped over 2,200 people with Universal Credit since March last year. Around 45 per cent of people in Dorset 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 Dorset, 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. For households in the south west, the loss of £20 a week is equivalent to over six days of energy costs.
Daniel Cadisch, chief officer, Citizens Advice Central Dorset says, “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.
“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.”
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