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Universal Credit cut puts 100,000 at risk of homelessness

Written by: Emma Lunn
More than 100,000 renters on Universal Credit are at risk of eviction now that Universal Credit has been cut by £20 a week, according to Crisis.

The housing charity has issued a stark warning that thousands of renters in arrears could now be driven into homelessness.

Analysis of UK government data by Crisis found that in England more than 100,000 low income renters on Universal Credit will be at least two or more months behind on their rent when the planned £20 cut takes effect next week, raising fears that thousands will struggle to keep their heads above water.

The government increased Universal Credit payments by £20 each week at the start of the pandemic. This uplift was due to end in April 2021, but was extended by six months in the Budget in March. It finished at the end of September despite widespread opposition to the move.

The cut will see people on Universal Credit lose an average of £87 per month or the equivalent of £1,040 over a year. Crisis says it will hit struggling households amid rapidly soaring energy prices, a freeze on housing benefit which isn’t keeping up with rising rents in most parts of the country, and the possibility of further redundancies in the wake of the government’s furlough scheme ending.

Crisis says that thousands are under “incredible pressure” to keep a roof over their head. With the eviction ban in England now over and notice periods as low as just four weeks for those with four or more months of arrears, Crisis is warning that a further drop in income could lead to a surge in homelessness unless the £20 cut is reversed.

Jon Sparkes, Crisis chief executive, said: “For many struggling renters this cut could be the final blow that forces them from their homes. We know that when people have somewhere stable to live, they are in a better position to find work, build their careers and contribute to the economy as it re-opens. Taking this vital lifeline away risks undermining all of this.

“If we are truly serious about levelling up the country and rebuilding our economy so it works for everyone, then the UK government must change course and keep the £20 uplift so that people don’t needlessly lose their homes this winter and we have a fighting chance at recovery. The UK government assured people they would not lose their home because of the crisis; we must not fail them now.”

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