Another Woman Affected By Universal Credit Cut As She Has To Give Up Hearing For Food

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Lesley Mooney, 61, and from Grimsby, said “every day it is a choice of keeping warm or eating” as she blasted the government for leaving her in a condition that she has “never been like this in my life”. A benefit claimant having to choose between heating her home and eating has blasted the government for cutting the £20-a-week Universal Credit boost.

Lesley Mooney, from Grimsby, said rising costs of living and energy bills, compounded with the cut to the £20 Universal Credit uplift mean she has never been in such a dire position.

She is among the estimated six million people who fear hardship due to the cut, which equals to an extra £1,040 extra a year, Grimsby Live reports.

The benefit boost was introduced at the start of the pandemic to help people through lockdown, but the government on Wednesday decided to withdraw it saying it was always only meant to be temporary.

Campaigners and claimants have argued the uplift showed the level of support provided by benefits was inadequate before the pandemic due to years of austerity.

That while Citizens Advice warned two-third of working claimants risk being unable to pay their bills or being forced to sell their belongings to make ends meet.

Lesley told Grimsby Live: “It is not just the cut in Universal Credit. The gas and electricity prices and the cost of shopping have gone up too. Every day it is a choice of keeping warm or eating.”

She told me how her energy bills of £40 per week are set to rise. The rise in benefits she received due to the pandemic helped pay for her gas and electricity.

The former Merchant Navy cook who was severely injured in a car crash many years ago said: “I have never been like this in my life.

“We are in England not some Third World country. All we are told is to go and look for work. But I can’t because I am sick. It makes me mad when people turn up at a food bank in a car or in a taxi and fill the boot with food parcels. If they can afford to run a car then they can afford food.”

Lesley, 61, said, due to her disability, she had to isolate at home at the start of the pandemic and had food parcels delivered to her Grimsby home.

Out of £900-per-month she receives in benefit, £433 goes on rent and £230 on gas, electricity, and TV. She is also in debt to North East Lincolnshire Council.

Donna Green, 38, also from Grimsby, said she had not received the £20 uplift in Universal Credit but is still facing dropping under the breadline.

She said: “People have relied upon it for 18 months and to take it away will cause a lot of hardship. My neighbour has a baby girl and was able to take her out to the beach and get her a nice pack up for school or go to the arcades for half an hour.

“It was like having the freedom that has been taken away,” said Donna.

She added: “I borrow from friends and come to the food bank. It is the only way I can survive and look after my daughter who comes to stay once in a while and with my granddaughter. Her mum is at college and I look after the baby. I have suffered from anxiety and depression a lot. I used to work on a food stall and I can try to follow steps to get back into work but it is a struggle. I get £300 in benefit but it soon goes on electricity.”

Mum Victoria Spence, 37, told how she worked in a local factory and is trained as a kitchen assistant but lockdown caused the closure of many restaurants and cafes.

She said: “It is a struggle. I want to get back to work. But it would mean I would be worse off and then I would have to go to live with my parents.

“It is a case of living day-by-day,” she said.

Victoria said she receives £325 as her rent is taken out automatically and gas and electricity cost her £10 each per week.

She said she is grateful to the Rock Foundation food bank for supporting her and her daughter.

Busker Houdini Richards, 33, told how he survives on £409 per month in Universal Credit and receives rent support of £325.

“To lose £80-per-month is devastating. I would like to get back to work but the pandemic ended my ability to do magic on the streets and busking,” he said.

Rock Foundation founder, Pam Hodge said families will be hit hard by the cut in Universal Credit.

“So many of them have got used to having it and it is gone, so there is a lot of hardship coming up with winter and people having to pay out for energy bills,” she said.

Around 385 food parcels are distributed at Rock’s food bank each week which is about half of the amount handed out during the peak of the pandemic a year ago.

Pam said many of the churches in North East Lincolnshire had donated food packages after celebrating harvest festivals in church. That had offset some of the donations from local supermarkets who had reduced the amount to Rock due to shortages on the shelves.

Katie Schmuecker, deputy director of policy and partnerships at Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: “The Prime Minister is abandoning millions to hunger and hardship with his eyes wide open.

“The biggest ever overnight cut to social security flies in the face of the Government’s mission to unite and level up our country.

“When the increase to UC was introduced, the Chancellor said it was to “strengthen the safety net” – a tacit admission a decade of cuts and freezes had left our social security lifeline to wear thin and threadbare for families in and out of work relying on it.”

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been contacted for comment.

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