Universal creditors on the budget: ‘It’s going to be a dark winter’

Universal creditors on the budget: ‘It’s going to be a dark winter’

Meanwhile, health problems and conspicuous childcare costs – she had to pay £ 900 a month, almost as much as the family’s rent – meant Emma could not afford to work.

“People said you knew [the cut] should come, why did not you prepare for it? But if you do not have something in the first place, you can not prevent it, ”she said.

“You just see the looming ahead, it was torture – especially in the same month, energy prices started to rise, and two months before Christmas. It could not have come at a worse time.”

The family’s income will be cut further in April, when ministers increase national insurance to fund the NHS.

She was “not surprised” that the chancellor did not announce any changes that would help her family stay afloat, and feel trapped in a situation where “the only bill [the family] may change [their] food bill, by eating less and worse ”.

It is a myth that people want to trust the state for income, Emma said, adding that a government mandate raise for her husband – earning more than the minimum wage but too little to support his family – and others like him would have done the biggest difference for her in the expense review.

“Our universal credit would fall, but we would have a little more control over our own finances instead of someone else controlling the money side of things,” she said. “I would love for people to make decisions about spending a day in my shoes.”

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In a speech in the House of Commons, the Chancellor said this autumn budget heralded a “new age of optimism” in the British economy.

But Caroline Rice, a daycare worker and mother of one in Northern Ireland, told The Big Issue that she can not see how today’s budget aligns with the government’s “leveling” mission – because it does not do much to “ensure that every child have the right to success ”.

The 48-year-old said the changed cut-off rate could mean she keeps around £ 25 to £ 30 extra from her earnings each month, but that she will still be out of pocket money and struggling to afford necessities after the £ 20 per . week. cut.

“If I made that much money, I would not need universal credit,” she said.

The cut, which was officially made on October 6, has yet to be implemented in her payments. But she expects to see a reduced amount paid into her account before the end of the month. “I just felt sick. I avoided thinking about it,” she said.

“I manage my money really well. But money can only go that far.”

Caroline can not compromise on all necessities – she needs the Internet at home to manage her universal credit account, a car to work and to keep the heat on when caring for children – but she had already “reduced everything” before the price of living crisis took hold in Britain.

“It’s going to be a very dark winter,” she said. “You are constantly turning off the light and trying to calculate if it is cold enough to turn on the heat.

“This budget does nothing for most people on universal credit,” Caroline added. “We hear all the talk about giving children opportunities, helping all children to succeed. But there are so many children living in poverty and stuck there. It’s not rising. “

If the government thinks it is giving a ladder to people on low incomes, “the steps are too high,” she said.

“There is no realistic way to pull people up who are in the graves of despair and poverty. Most of us have ambitions to reap the benefits. But most of the support is only available to people who have already been lifted out of the hole. ”

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Sunak’s budget provides even less comfort to people like Aurora who are out of work and dependent on universal credit. It shows that parts of people have been “completely forgotten” by the government, said the mother, who lives in London.

Childcare costs have locked her out of employment during the pandemic, but the benefit ceiling – which limits the amount someone can receive from the state even though the government calculates their entitlement as an amount above the ceiling – means she did not even receive the £ 20 increase. Sunak’s budget announcement did not include any policies that would make a difference for Aurora, which pays 95 percent of its rent benefits and is in arrears.

“I just can not believe we have been ignored again,” she told The Big Issue. “We have not had our heat on this month because we can not afford it.

The government claims helping low-income parents back to work is “spinning,” Aurora said when people like her want to work but face “so many barriers and shackles to jump through.” Even if she could secure childcare funding, many of the jobs she has seen require being available to guards at such short notice that she would not have time to arrange it.

“I will probably be made homeless at some point. I know, but there’s nothing I can do to stop it. We are powerless. “

Today’s announcement was a “tale of two budgets” for low-income families, said Katie Schmuecker, deputy director of policy and partnerships for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

While the change in cut rate and minimum wage increase are “very positive steps”, millions of people will not benefit from the new policies, Schmuecker added. People across the UK who are unable to work or looking for work now have the lowest rate of unemployment benefit at constant rates since around 1990.

“Among the people in our society who are unable to work are cancer patients, people with disabilities and those who care for young children or elderly parents,” Schmuecker added. “Their energy bills and weekly store are rising like everyone else’s, and they face immediate distress, hunger and debt in the coming months.

“The chancellor had an opportunity to support families with the lowest incomes to cope with the storm ahead, and he did not take it.”

Emma, ​​Caroline and Aurora participate in Covid Realities, a Nuffield Foundation-funded research program that has documented low-income life during the pandemic.

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