LYING awake at night grandmother Karen Issac worries how she will afford to pay her bills and food shopping after the Universal Credit cut comes in.
She is one of millions of Brits who face losing £20-a-week as the government withdraws the pandemic support from those on benefits on October 6.
The 63-year-old has just £5 left after paying all her essential bills and buying food.
Karen, who lives in Canterbury, said: “The extra £20 when Covid hit was like a light at the end of the tunnel because I was already struggling.
“It’s helped with everything, because let’s face it, Universal Credit is absolutely rubbish money. How you can expect people to survive on it, through no fault of their own, I really don’t know.
“Losing it, I go to bed at night and I’m just so worried about how I’m going to pay for the basics, the direct debits for bills, how I’m going to eat.
“I've just bought the shopping and now I've got about five pounds left and I don't get paid until the ninth. That's reality. And things now are so much more expensive.”
Karen claims Universal Credit after a car accident left her unable to work.
She had to leave her job at Waitrose because of her health and can no longer work in retail because of ongoing pain issues.
She now works part time for a charity but hours of work available vary from one month to the next and can sometimes be zero.
She added: “I never thought I'd be in a situation like this. I had to give up work after having a car accident.
“I couldn’t get the same kind of job and had to look for something completely different, and I’m not old enough for the pension.
“I'm not alone being in a situation like this, there's so many other people.”
Cost of living crisis
The end of the Universal Credit uplift also comes at the same time that millions face rising costs in what’s been described as a “perfect storm” and a cost of living crisis.
Energy bills will go up after a huge rise in wholesale prices which has also led several energy firms to cease trading, pushing prices up further for customers.
Prices of food and other goods are also on the up as inflation has soared, compounded by supply chain issues and a lorry driver shortage.
Petrol pumps have been empty after trucks were unable to get to forecourts and drivers fearing a shortage led to panic buying.
Fuel prices have now hit an eight-year high.
Karen said: “I worked from age 11, on a Saturday and school holidays and always worked until I had children and in between I had to look after my elderly parents.
“It’s all very well saying to get a couple more hours work, like Therese Coffey said, but it just doesn’t work like that.
“Many are working like me and we lose 63pence for every pound that we earn anyway."
Ms Coffey, the secretary of state for pensions, said that those on Universal Credit needed to work an extra two hours a week to make up for the loss of £20.
But the taper rate leaves many Brits with just 37p for every extra £1 they earn. Calculations by experts show that someone on Universal Credit needs to earn at least £54.05 extra per week to make up for the £20 loss.
The Sun has called for a reduction to the harsh taper rate and an increase to the threshold when it kicks in as part of our Make Universal Credit Work campaign, to make it easier for Brits to get back to work
Too little too late
Yesterday, the government launched a new £500million fund for local authorities to give to those who need food, clothes and help covering bills.
Households will be able to apply for the new cash from their council from October and it will be up to each council to decide how much cash people could get – and how they apply for the help.
But Karen slammed the help as a “postcode lottery”.
She added: “It’s too little, too late, they should keep the £20 uplift.”
“Obviously the grant will go to families first, and so it should. But there are so many different people affected by this £20 cut and you're at the mercy of your local council.”
“I don’t know if they’ve been told who they have to give it to, or if it’s at their own discretion, and if it is, that’s what worries me, and if they have enough to cover everyone in need.
“It’s also something else you have to apply for. When you’re at your bottom you have to prove yourself again and again.”
A DWP spokesperson said: "We’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit and the furlough scheme were temporary.
"They were designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and they have 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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