As many of you are, Depaul UK is concerned about the imminent cut to Universal Credit, which will see people receiving £20 less per week than they are currently receiving. The reduction in payments is likely to push thousands of young people at risk of homelessness over the edge.

Depaul UK’s Head of Rough Sleeping Services, Dan Dumoulin, said: “The upcoming reduction to Universal Credit payments could have a devastating effect on young people at a time when the pressures swirling around them seem to be increasing. Not only this, but fuel and food prices are on the rise and the furlough scheme is coming to an end. There’s a perfect storm brewing which could see many more young people becoming homeless, and those currently experiencing homelessness plunged deeper into crisis.”

He added: “Last year we released a report showing the negative impact that the pandemic had on the wellbeing, employment and financial security of young people in Depaul UK services. We believe that the £20 uplift to Universal Credit payments introduced in the pandemic should be made permanent, in order to mitigate against these harms.”

Below we’ve tried to answer some of the questions around the forthcoming changes to Universal Credit, and how it could affect young people.

 

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a benefit available to people with a low income or who are out of work.

Almost six million people in the UK currently claim Universal Credit, including many of the young people that we support here at Depaul UK. As much as one in six Universal Credit claimants is under the age of 25 and of the young people claiming Universal Credit more than a third are in employment.

In the past, we’ve campaigned to end the five week wait for Universal Credit payments.

 

Why was the £20 Universal Credit boost introduced?

A £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit payments was introduced at the beginning of the pandemic to support claimants and the economy.

The pandemic has had a huge impact on the number of people claiming Universal credit. The number of people on Universal Credit doubled from 3 million to 6 million between March 2020 and March 2021, but new claimants have fallen in recent months and the uplift is scheduled to end on October 6th.

 

What effect will removing the £20 top-up to Universal Credit have on young people?

As well as young people already experiencing homelessness, the cut could increase the number of young people becoming homeless.

Depaul UK Director for Prevention, Nicola Harwood, said: “The reduction in Universal Credit payments, alongside the furlough scheme ending and other bills increasing will put many households under greater pressure. Households will be forced into impossible decisions about whether to heat their house or put food on the table. This could lead to more tensions at home, family’s relationships becoming frayed, and ultimately more young people at risk of sleeping in unsafe places and becoming homeless.”

A study by the Fabian Society found that most people in the UK want the increase to be made permanent, and in particular for vulnerable groups such as young adults, carers and disabled people.