Budget uplift will leave lots struggling this winter fear food banks

Rishi Sunak, Gareth Brenland and Maureen Reyne

Chancellor Rishi Sunak's changes to Universal Credit have been questioned by heads of Ipswich food bank charities like Gareth Brenland, from Ipswich Bus Shelter, and Maureen Reynel, founder of FIND. - Credit: PA/ TIFFERS THE BUS SHELTER/ Sarah Lucy Brown

Ipswich food bank bosses have warned that measures in the Budget aimed at lower income families won't be enough to stop people struggling this winter. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak cut the Universal Credit taper rate meaning instead of losing 63p for every £1 earned above the work allowance, the amount will be reduced to 55p.

The amount people can earn before starting to lose the benefit will also increase by £500.

“This is a tax cut next year worth over £2 billion,” Mr Sunak said during the announcement on Wednesday; “Nearly two million families will keep, on average, an extra £1,000 a year.”

This works out as around £20 a week, which was the amount cut from Universal Credit when the uplift was reduced this month. 

Gareth Brenland from foodbank and homelessness charity the Bus Shelter Ipswich said it was "a bit of a cheek" and "out of order" from Mr Sunak.

Mr Brenland, who is on UC, added: "It's just the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer again. 

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"The £20 uplift really had an impact on me.

"It's going to be a scary time this winter for a lot of people. There is going to be lots of hardship."

Maureen Reynel, founder of FIND, an Ipswich referral food bank, also felt stumped by the government returning the £20 uplift to only working families. 

"It's a mixed bag of people who come to us," she said. "There are those that work, some who are capable of working but do not have a job and those who cannot for cases of physical and mental disability. 

"They've given back the £20 they've taken away but only to workers. Okay. It doesn't seem there is much understanding there. 

"There's no right or wrong [of why people are on UC]."

She also said the previous £20 uplift, provided to those on Universal Credit, during the pandemic, only "made a little difference" as the price of food, heating and travel costs are increasing.

Inflation is also likely to rise further, Mr Sunak said, from 3.1% to 4% in 2022. 

Those on low incomes will also get more money, through a national living wage increase from £8.91 an hour to £9.50 in April 2022. 

But Ms Reynet warned: "We've got to get through the winter, which is going to be tough enough."

Rob Thacker, chair at Home-Start in Suffolk said: "We would welcome anything that can help the families we support, however, many families were struggling before the changes. Rising fuel costs and general price increases mean many families will be struggling and we are not convinced this goes far enough."

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