Benefit cuts threat to 13,000 people in Hartlepool

More than 13,000 people in Hartlepool could lose "lifeline" funding as the Government prepares to axe a pandemic-inspired benefits boost.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 11:29 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 2:37 pm
Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Since March 2020, Universal Credit claimants have been receiving an extra £20 a week.

But, despite calls to make the rise permanent, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed, as reported in Wednesday’s Mail, that it would be scrapped this autumn as it had always been intended as a temporary measure.

Data from the Department of Work and Pensions shows that in May, there were 13,717 Universal Credit claimants in Hartlepool – 4,441 of whom were in employment.

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That figure is up 40% since February 2020 – shortly before the coronavirus pandemic hit – when there were 9,825 people in the area claiming the benefit.

The cut is likely to impact nearly six million people nationally.

Iain Porter, of anti-poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Social security should be a strong lifeline to protect families from harm and open up options when they hit hard times.

"It’s not too late for ministers to do the right thing by keeping the £20 increase to Universal Credit and extending it to legacy benefits.”

A Government spokesperson said: “Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and we announced the temporary uplift as part of a £400bn package of measures that will last well beyond the end of the roadmap.

“Our focus now is on our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs, which will support people in the long-term by helping them learn new skills and find new work.”