Local charity says 45% of people seeking its advice on benefits have never needed its support before
Number of people claiming Universal Credit in Dorset has risen 97% since the pandemic began
Citizens Advice Dorset has warned of the “devastating impact” of a scheduled cut to Universal Credit in April.
Staff and volunteers at Citizens Advice Dorset have helped over 2200 people with Universal Credit since March last year. Around 45% of people in Dorset seeking its advice on benefits have never contacted the charity before.
Advisers say many needing support from the benefits system have lost their job or suffered a drop in income as a result of the pandemic.
Citizens Advice Dorset, which has continued to provide one-to-one support throughout the pandemic, warns that local families could be pushed into further hardship if the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift ends as planned in April. For households in the South West, the loss of £20 a week is equivalent to over 6 days of energy costs.
In Dorset the number of people claiming Universal Credit has risen 97% since the pandemic started. This compares to a rise of 93% nationally.
Daniel Cadisch, Chief Officer, Citizens Advice Central Dorset says “We support people every day whose lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic. For many of them, Universal Credit is the lifeline that has helped pay the bills and put food on the table.
“But households across Dorset now face the devastating prospect of a £20 a week cut to their benefits in just a few short months.
“With a tough outlook in the jobs market, we’re urging the government to continue doing the right thing and maintain the Universal Credit uplift.”