Four in 10 Universal Credit claimants ‘skipping meals to survive’ – charity

·3-min read

Four in 10 people claiming Universal Credit (UC) skipped meals over the summer to keep up with rising costs, research suggests.

Some 41% of people receiving the benefit skipped meals over the past three months, according to a survey for the Trussell Trust.

And 38% of respondents said they had gone a whole day without eating, or just had one meal, in the last month because they could not afford to buy enough food.

YouGov surveyed 1,846 UK adults claiming UC between August 10 and 31.

It found that a fifth (21%) of respondents were unable to cook hot food this summer as they could not afford to use the cooker.

And 23% said they were unable to travel to work or essential appointments because they could not afford the cost of public transport or fuel.

Around a third (34%) said they have fallen into debt in the last three months because they could not keep up with essential bills.

And almost two thirds (64%) said they spent the first cost-of-living payment from the Government in July on food.

The Trussell Trust said the figures prove existing support is not enough, and is calling on the new Prime Minister Liz Truss to ramp up action.

The charity said its network of food banks is providing more help to people compared to before the coronavirus pandemic – the equivalent of a parcel being provided every 13 seconds.

Along with 70 other organisations, it is calling for a doubling of the £1,200 pledged by the Government to help millions of the most vulnerable households facing rising costs.

And it said the Government should rethink the deductions it takes from people’s benefits payments.

Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said the charity is “deeply concerned” that 40% of UC recipients are skipping meals to survive.

She said: “It’s wrong that people are missing meals and are unable to afford to cook because they are sick or disabled or caring for someone.

“The reality is that, instead of providing a lifeline when our circumstances change, financial support such as Universal Credit is leaving people – 41% of whom are working – without enough income to stay warm, fed and dry.

“It’s pushing people to the doors of food banks and that’s simply not right. If people are to have enough money to live with dignity, we need strong systems that lift us out of hardship rather than plunging us deeper into poverty.”

In her first speech as Prime Minister, Ms Truss acknowledged the economic pressures arising from the energy crisis, but said she is confident that the UK would “ride out the storm” .

She said the country needs to “reduce the burden on families and help people get on in life”.

She also promised to “get spades in the ground to make sure people are not facing unaffordable energy bills”, pledging to take action this week.