A CHARITY which has been providing food parcels to families in need during the Coronavirus pandemic has warned people have ‘no chance of surviving’ if the extra £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit is scrapped at the end of next month.

Debbie Fixter, who manages Little Sprouts Charity Health and Well-Being in Thornaby, backed calls for the Chancellor to keep the support on place, warning those making the decision 'have no idea' about the importance of the extra £20.

The Northern Echo is calling for an extension of the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit, which is due to end on March 31, as part of its Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is campaign, urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to deliver on a number of policies to help people across the North-East.

Ms Fixter said: “People making the decisions have no idea what £20 means - that’s a bottle of wine to them. To the people we help it’s putting the heating on or feeding their children for a week.

“People are only just surviving. It’s imperative that the £20 (Universal Credit uplift) stays.

“As soon as Covid struck we set up five different projects including one in Thornaby helping support people who don’t have online access, ringing people for them, helping people with housing problems and homelessness.

“This (the Universal Credit uplift) has to go on - it would be diabolical to take the £20-a-week off people.

Amanda Bailey, Director of the North East Child Poverty Commission, a stakeholder network that strives to help children have an equal chance in life, said: “The Government did the right thing by introducing the £20 uplift last year, strengthening our social security safety net and providing a lifeline to many thousands of families right across the North East.

“So – at a time when unemployment remains very high and rising – it’s absolutely unthinkable that this support could be removed from the lowest income households at the end of March. The uplift must be retained for at least twelve months, otherwise hundreds of thousands of children will be plunged into poverty, whilst those already living below the poverty line face even greater hardship.

“And this decision is particularly critical for the North East. Even before Covid-19 devastated family incomes, we had one of the highest levels of child poverty in the country, which was also rising at a faster rate than anywhere else.

“Next month’s Budget is an opportunity for the Chancellor to set out a clear plan and commitment to tackle child poverty, and the most urgent part of that must be retaining the £20 uplift for at least one year.”