The Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA) has joined forces with the housing association representatives in England, Scotland, and Wales to call on the UK government to extend the £20 uplift in Universal Credit (UC) payments.
Research has shown that the removal of the £20 uplift would have a severe, detrimental impact on many families, who have come to rely on the additional finance during the pandemic to pay for vital services.
NIFHA, Community Housing Cymru, National Housing Federation, and Scottish Federation of Housing Associations have written to Will Quince, minister for Welfare Delivery in the Department of Work and Pensions, to outline the impact any proposal to remove the uplift would have.
The call from all four representative bodies comes as ministers from the Welsh Parliament, Scottish Parliament, and the NI Assembly have also come together to voice opposition to the removal of the UC uplift.
Speaking after the letter to the minister was sent, Patrick Thompson, deputy chief executive of NIFHA (pictured), said: “The £20 uplift has not been a luxury payment for those receiving Universal Credit, but a vital payment to support them through an extremely difficult time.
“It has paid for essential services, such as phones and broadband to keep families connected, and on groceries and other household goods, which have all seen price rises.
“The removal of this payment will have a direct impact on thousands of families, leaving them in extreme financial difficulties.
“It will mean stark choices on which bills to pay.
“Many do not realise that the government’s intention was that this should be a temporary payment, and for it to be cut from their weekly budget will be a shock.
“NIFHA, along with our counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales, is calling upon the government to make this payment a permanent feature of Universal Credit, or at the very least extend it until March 2022 so that the sufficiency of the standard allowance can be reviewed.
“We cannot allow thousands of families to be plunged into debt at this difficult time.”
Housing associations in the north of England have also called for the government to continue the £20 Universal Credit uplift.
The income of their 39,949 residents claiming UC in the region will collectively fall by £798,980 a week – over £41m a year – their analysis found.
Image: WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock
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