A Universal Credit claimant with cancer who cannot work has spoken out against the government’s £20-a-week cut to the benefit.
The temporary increase in the benefit was announced in March last year as the first lockdown began, but this is being phased out from this week.
Universal Credit claimant Kevin Smith (not his real name) has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and heart arrhythmia, as well as related stress and anxiety.
Smith says he is registered by the Department for Work and Pensions as unfit to work, but is still in line for the same £20 per week cut to his benefit.
Speaking to The Mirror, Smith said: “I have been diagnosed with cancer, yet the government say that this £20 per week reduction will encourage people to go back to work.
“What about those that cannot work? I lose £80 per month which I cannot make up by going back to work, let alone having a second job. It is a carte blanche decision for all, no matter their circumstances.”
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Some five million households are on Universal Credit.
The £80 monthly increase, described as a lifeline for many families, was introduced at the height of the pandemic last year, to help reduce the pressure on those affected by Covid.
The cut means the average adult on the standard allowance will see their payments drop from £411.51 to £324.84.
On average, the benefit is worth an extra £1,040 a year.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) insisted the £6billion boost would end in October despite charities pleading for it to be made permanent.
Downing Street has also confirmed the cut will be final.
Earlier today The Mirror reported a single mum whose teenage son is battling cancer says the £20 Universal Credit cut is “the difference between taking your child to hospital and paying the bills”.
Suzie Mead has slammed Boris Johnson’s decision to scrap the uplift on Wednesday, which will hit millions of families already struggling with rising living costs.
The 36-year-old was devastated to find a tumour the size of a clementine on her son’s testicle at the start of his summer holiday.
The mum-of-one rushed 14-year-old Ieuan Tennyson to the GP, where they were referred to a specialist before being sent to Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital in Cardiff.
The tumour was removed and Suzie, from South Wales, tried to convince herself it wasn’t anything to worry about.
But in September she was told the lump was cancerous and that Ieaun would have to undergo nine months of chemotherapy for rhabdomyosarcoma.
Suzie now fears being constantly worried as she faces the added financial strain that will result from the planned benefit cut and her son’s hospital treatment.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the cut to the £20-a-week uplift saying there is “no alternative”, a phrase used by former Tory leader Margaret Thatcher back in the 1980s.
But Suzie, who relies on benefits as she can’t work more than six hours a week due to her depression and anxiety, hit back saying “there is always an alternative”.