A mum-of-two who was forced to claim Universal Credit after the tragic death of her husband has said she fears planned Tory cuts.
The benefit was increased by £20 per week at the start of the coronavirus pandemic – but this will end at the beginning of October.
Boris Johnson is coming under pressure from charities, campaigners and even Tory MPs to scrap the end of the temporary increase.
Research has found that thousands of Brits could lose more than £1,000 annually if the top-up ends next month.
One of those people, Stacey Oakley, has said things were already difficult even with the added help.
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And she now fears an even tougher lifestyle if the cuts go ahead as a planned.
Stacey, a full-time sales executive, told Sky News she never needed to claim benefits – until the shocking death of her husband.
Her partner Matt was killed on their road in 2018, leaving her to bring up their two daughters.
She said of the slashing of Universal Credit: “It’ll be robbing Peter to pay Paul and looking for ways to cut back.
“Last winter I had cereal for tea at times just to cut down on the bills. Everything has to be budgeted down to a T.
“I have to know exactly what money I need to come out just to cover the basics of gas, water, electricity bills…
“There’s nothing left at the end of the month.”
According to research, carers, shelf stackers and hairdressers will be among the workers hit by the biggest overall drop in welfare payments being compounded by the Universal Credit cut.
Primary teachers, nurses and street cleaners will also be potentially losing more than £1,700 per year compared to 2010 if the £20-a-week uplift ends.
Research from the Action for Children charity went further to examine how much less a sole-earner couple with two children will receive in social security compared to 2010, factoring in previous benefit squeezes.
The families of hairdressers will have lost £1,982 on average, shelf stackers £1,843 and care workers £1,773, according to the analysis.
Street cleaners were estimated to lose £1,769, nurses £1,736 and primary school teachers £1,734.
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Action for Children policy director Imran Hussain urged the Prime Minister to rethink the plan, warning it is a “recipe for disaster for struggling families”.
“Too many childhoods are overshadowed by poverty and hardship, and the pandemic is making things worse,” he said.
“We’re talking about hairdressers, shop-workers and carers – not big earners but people who are proud to work and do everything they can to provide for their children.”
Meanwhile, Labour will challenge Tory critics of the cut to “do the right thing” by joining them in calling for it to be reversed in an opposition day debate in the Commons on Wednesday.
New analysis from Labour suggests the cut would take £2.5 billion from the economies of the North of England and the Midlands.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “Labour is giving Conservative MPs the chance to do the right thing, stand up to the Prime Minister and defend their constituents from this devastating cut.
“Once again, this Government’s rhetoric doesn’t stand up to reality. They promised investment in the North and Midlands but are instead pulling billions out of local economies.”
The £20 weekly uplift was introduced temporarily to help claimants weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic.
But ministers plan to start phasing out the increase from the end of September, based on individual claimants’ payment dates.
A Government spokesman said: “As announced by the Chancellor at the Budget, the uplift to Universal Credit was always temporary.
“It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.
“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work, and it’s right that the Government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”
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