Syeda F on 08 October 2020
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Q. Are you on Universal Credit?
Q. How has the extra £20 a week helped?
Hi I have twice now claimed UC - once for a period in 2019 and then again from this summer. This second period I have benefited (no pun intended) from the temporary extra £20pw. I can say it has made a massive difference compared to when I was on UC the first time. I am a full time employed lone parent and both times of claiming UC have been due to a relationship breakdown. I have 50-50 share of my children. The extra £20pw has enabled me to move to a rented property that is closer to the children's school, which is more expensive to rent but I do gain a little bit by not having the extra travel costs. The loss of the £20pw in April will not mean I have to move - the property is too good to let go - but it will mean I would have to make cut backs somewhere else. I pay my gas and electric monthly per usage which helps me to budget on a tight income as I can work out what bill is coming, but I am not sure it is the cheapest way to pay for the utilities. That is something I can look at. I am trying to keep afloat by budgeting in all sorts of ways - so the loss of the £20pw would have a huge impact. I am not sure I can afford to cut back on anything other than debt repayments. Meaning my debt from the relationship breakdowns will extend further. I can manage that while I have a job. But that future isn't a rosy picture either. I can see why the government injected this money because with the lockdown and working from home, kids not at school there were more costs - electricity, more food eaten, etc. But I also know that people on working-age benefits have been through 5+ years of austerity and a benefit freeze. So the extra £20 was needed anyway. And I cannot understand why they did not pass this on to the "legacy" benefits either - people on those benefit have suffered just as much too. So I not only think the £20 has to stay, it needs expanding to all working-age benefits. The other issue is the Local Housing Allowance which is used to calculate the housing costs in my UC. Its at the bottom 30% of the rented market, so most people do not get full help with their rent. The flat I am in is of great benefit to the kids who are near school and friends. Their emotional well-being needs attending to also and one way is to have settled time while they are at school. Alas, I cannot see either the £20 being extended or staying, nor the LHA being increased. This is very much a worry!
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