An additional 100,000 Londoners could be “plunged into poverty” without further support from the Government, according to new research.
The research, commissioned by City Hall and carried out by the University of Essex, found that 100,000 more Londoners will face poverty if the Government goes ahead with plans to remove the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits.
With Rishi Sunak’s budget statement set for next week, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called on the Chancellor to keep the “lifeline” increase and extend it to other benefits.
Mr Khan said: “The pandemic has had a devastating impact on our city, but the Government’s increase to Universal Credit has provided a lifeline for thousands of Londoners who are struggling. And even before the pandemic, London had some of the highest levels of poverty in the whole country, and the fallout from the virus risks making this even worse.
“It’s vital that Ministers step forward to extend this support in next week’s Budget to prevent 100,000 more Londoners being driven into poverty. But they should also go much further and extend this uplift, remove the benefit cap and increase funding to local welfare schemes so that low-income households can get the support they need during this time of national crisis.”
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, City Hall funded research that found 440,000 Londoners, 60,000 of them children, had gone without two or more essentials such as food or shelter for a single month in 2019 which was an increase of 28 per cent since 2017.
The findings show that removing the £20 a week Universal Credit increase would have a disproportionate impact and that of the 100,000 Londoners affected, 30,000 would be children.
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Of the adults affected, half would be those from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background, a third would be single mothers and one in ten would be people with a disability.
The CEO of anti-poverty charity Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K) has called for support to be extended to the 2.2 million “legacy benefit” claimants who did not see a rise in payments to help them through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Anela Anwar, CEO of Z2K, said: “For us, it still beggars belief that the Government thought it was right to give the increase to one kind of claimant, but deny it to others, especially when you realise that three-quarters of those 2.2 legacy benefit claimants are disabled people on Employment Support Allowance.”
She added: “Evidence from across the country now shows how many of our fellow citizens have to make invidious choices between putting food on the table and heating their home. Even worse is to come, as the increase this April is currently scheduled to be just 37 pence a week.”