Universal Credit claimants at 'breaking point' as £20 cut looms

A young working mother from Derry whose Universal Credit will be cut by £20 on Friday will struggle to keep her head above water, a Derry MLA has said.

£20 is to be cut from the Universal Credit payment.
£20 is to be cut from the Universal Credit payment.

SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan said the effect of the £20 cut will be most profoundly felt in areas of high deprivation such as Derry.

"Over the weekend, I was contacted by a young single mother, someone who has contacted me continually since being notified that her last uplift payment will be made this Friday. She works hard to provide for her two children, yet her wages barely cover the essentials.

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"The £20 uplift merely allowed her to keep her head above water, put food on the table and remove the added stress of having to borrow a few pounds from family or friends to buy a packet of nappies that week.

"That is the reality of what we are dealing with. The uplift was not, and is not, a luxury. It is not 'yet another payment for scroungers', contrary to a the characterisation that I have seen being bandied around on social media and, indeed, by senior Tory politicians in recent weeks," said Mr. Durkan, speaking in the Assembly this week.

Mr. Durkan said a third of claimants, including the woman who contacted him over the weekend, are working.

"She is genuinely worried, as are so many thousands of people, about what the weeks ahead will mean for her and her children. She is juggling a stressful job in the social care sector with raising two children under the age of five and maintaining a household.

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"As a single parent, that is no mean feat, but to have to contend with being plunged into debt and poverty on top of that has left her at breaking point.

"Yet, that case is, I am afraid, far from unique: 84,000 children across the North will be impacted, and we definitely need to do more to protect them. The consequences of going ahead with the cut will be catastrophic and will undoubtedly hit harder here in the North than anywhere else. If the families affected needed the help 18 months ago, they certainly need it now," he stated.