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Charity helps more than 250,000 people with Universal Credit

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More than a quarter of a million people have been helped with Universal Credit by Citizens Advice since March.

Since March, Citizens Advice has helped nearly 280,000 people with Universal Credit, with seven out of 10 never having used the service before.

However, in October, ‘redundancy’ was the most searched term on the website.

The figures come as redundancies soared to 314,000 in the three months to September 2020, while the UK unemployment rate surged to 4.8%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published this week.

Alistair Cromwell, acting chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Our frontline advisers have helped more than 250,000 people with advice on Universal Credit since March. For many, it was the first time they’d needed support from the benefits system.

“The government was quick to boost Universal Credit by £20 a week in recognition of how hard this pandemic would hit. But this vital support is only in place until spring, the point at which the furlough scheme is also set to end.

“Making the uplift permanent will provide people with a long-term safety net as our economy and jobs market recover.”

At the start of the pandemic, the government increased the standard allowance of Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit payments by £20 a week.

But this uplift is only a temporary measure and is due to end in April 2021, meaning millions will lose over £1,000 from their annual budget overnight.

Charities and campaign groups have urged the government to keep the uplift but as yet, it maintains this will end next year.

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