Community Housing Cymru (CHC) is calling on the UK government to retain the £20 per week uplift as a permanent feature of Universal Credit for all current and future claimants.

CHC’s latest report A lot to lose’ reveals that the £20 per week that was added to Universal Credit during the Covid-19 pandemic has been transformational for many housing association tenants in Wales, and has been the difference between paying the bills and putting food on the table.

Housing associations in Wales reported a 44% rise in UC claims between March 2020 and March 2021.

The report speaks directly to tenants, who call the £20 uplift “vital” and “finally sufficient” but also a high proportion of the tenants were “not aware of reported plans to cut £20 per week from their UC package in autumn 2021.”

One group of associations conducted a survey of 93 people, across seven housing associations. This survey found that without the extra £20:

  • 51% felt they would struggle to make ends meet
  • 33% would struggle with household costs
  • 26% would struggle with food

Another housing association said that 79% of the tenants they spoke to feel that removal of the £20 uplift would leave them in financial hardship.

From October, UK government plans to remove that £20 extra each week from Universal Credit payments, leaving families “once again worrying about making ends meet.”

Stuart Ropke, Chief Executive at Community Housing Cymru said: “Our report lays bare the difference the additional £20 per week has had on people, and is a stark reminder of the realities many face when it comes to the choice between paying bills and feeding themselves and their families.

“We are grateful to all the tenants who shared their experiences of Universal Credit with their housing associations as part of this research into the real term impact of the uplift.

“What is alarming is that many people who responded are currently in work, but are still struggling to make ends meet on low wages. Others are seeking work, and need support with paying the bills in order to do so.

“The UK government must keep this uplift of £20 per week, and listen to the experiences of claimants and what the planned reduction will signify. The additional £20 per week has proven vital to those who claim Universal Credit, providing the support that was so desperately needed even before the pandemic. Removing it will only push people into debt.”