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Universal credit claimants increase 101% in Outer West Leeds

The number of people claiming Universal Credit in the Outer West Community Committee area has increased by 101% since March 2020, councillors have been told.

A council report said that the number of people who were were unemployed in Calverley & Farsley, Farnley & Wortley and Pudsey wards in May 2021 stood at 3,588.

The report said that there had been a decrease of 126 on the previous month.

It added that the year-on-year increase in claimants was reflected across the city due to the impact of COVID.

It also warned that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) will end at the end of September, and there ‘was an expectation’ that a number of people will be made redundant, which could subsequently increase claimants to Universal Credit.

Concern over Government cuts

More than 70,000 people in Leeds will be hit by planned Government cuts to the Universal Credit uplift next month, according to a senior Leeds city councillor.

A motion, known as a white paper, is set to be presented at a full Leeds City Council meeting this month, and makes a desperate plea to the Government to cancel the cut to avoid pushing thousands of families further into poverty.

The Government to scrap the extra £20-a-week Universal Credit payment from October – as the Chancellor said it was only temporary measure to help people through the pandemic.

But with a backdrop of rising living costs and low wages, the council’s executive member for communities Coun Mary Harland (Lab) says the payment is still a lifeline for many.

The motion, set to be presented by Coun Harland, reads:

“This council calls on the Government to cancel the £20 cut to Universal Credit that will hit over 70,000 people in Leeds, including many in low-income jobs, at a time when the cost of food in shops and supermarkets has increased by eight per cent already this year.”

The increase of those in receipt of Universal Credit in parts of Leeds has almost doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic, and a former Leeds MP recently warned the planned cut would make poverty levels even worse.

Coun Paul Truswell (Lab) told a meeting of Leeds City Council’s Inner South Community Committee last week: “It’s really disturbing that the number of people claiming Universal Credit in the last year has almost doubled.

“What is even more disturbing is that things are going to get dramatically worse before they get better. We have the furlough scheme coming to an end but we have also got the Government’s intention to claw back the uplift to UC.

“Given that we know that food is going up rapidly, food poverty will continue to increase, we have fuel poverty – fuel prices are going up. Digital poverty is when people can’t access certain things because they can’t afford the kit or broadband.”

Members of Leeds City Council are set to discuss and vote on whether to support the motion at a meeting on Tuesday, September 14.


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