Northern Ireland news

Universal Credit cut 'will hit Northern Ireland harder than Britain'

The £20 cut in Universal Credit will hit Northern Ireland harder than Britain, a leading economist has said

THE £20 cut in Universal Credit will hit Northern Ireland harder than Britain, a leading economist has said.

Claimants were given an extra £20 a week during the pandemic but this will end next month.

Around 134,070 people in the north claim the benefit.

The north's communities minister Deirdre Hargey, Scotland's social justice secretary Shona Robison and Welsh social justice minister Jane Hutt have all called on work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey to stop the cut.

Last week, a coalition of 100 groups also asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson to abandon the plan, calling it "the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since World War II”.

Resolution Foundation, a UK-based think-tank which researches the living standards of lower income families, is among those who want the £20 uplift to be retained.

The foundation's chief economist Mike Brewer told the BBC it would "affect Northern Ireland harder than other parts of the UK which reflects the underlying population and number of families with children".

"We think 24 per cent of working age families in Northern Ireland are going to lose out from the cut in Universal Credit - so almost one in four working age families."

He added: "We don't think this is the right time to take that money out of the economy, it's worth £5bn in a full year so that is £5bn not being spent by low-income families so it's just too soon to take away this money."

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said the £20 uplift was always intended to be temporary and "designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic".

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