THE impact of the latest cuts to Universal Credit means thousands of families in the North East will have to make tough decisions on how to spend their money.

Foodbanks are preparing for an increase in their users over the coming months, with one operator expecting “an avalanche of people to come through the doors of the foodbank in October”.

Ruth Fox, CEO at Footprints in the Community, which runs Redcar Area Foodbank, said she and her team of staff and volunteers did not know how people would cope with the upcoming cut when they were already struggling to feed themselves.

It comes after a report by the Trussel Trust found 79,000 people in the region fear they will be forced to skip meals due to the cuts. A further 84,000 people in the region fear being unable to heat their homes this winter and 56,000 say they’ll need to use a foodbank.

Read more: Residents react after Universal Credit £20 cut

Across the North East there was a growing need for foodbanks during the pandemic, as well as year-on-year increases in numbers of emergency food parcels distributed to people who are living in crisis. 

Ms Fox added: “For lots of people, taking away the £20 a week could be the difference between having a hot meal one day or not.”

Just over 3.5 million children in the UK are living in households that receive Universal Credit payments, according to Government figures.

This equates to 1.3 children being hit by the cut every second on average over the 31-day period from October 13, the charity Save the Children said, while hitting out against the removal.

The Northern Echo: Labour's City of Durham MP Mary Foy Labour's City of Durham MP Mary Foy

MP for the City of Durham, Mary Foy, labelled the uplift as a “lifeline” for claimants.

She said: “The cost of living is set to rise sharply, yet the Government are choosing to enforce the largest cut to social security in the history of the modern welfare state. The £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit has been a lifeline.

“I’ve heard concerning stories from parents worried about having to choose between heating or eating this winter. This shouldn’t happen in the fifth richest country in the world.”

However, Conservative MP for Darlington Peter Gibson, defended the payment reduction.

He said: “It isn’t a cut, but an ending of support that was extended until the end of the furlough scheme. Nobody can say the Government haven’t supported people.”

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