'Times are hard' - Yarmouth reacts to Universal Credit deduction

Brent is the second most affected UK authority by the government’s benefit cap (Pic credit: PA)

People on universal credit stand to lose more than £1,000 per year under the planned cut. - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

People in Great Yarmouth have shared their fears and frustrations about the government's decision to stop the £20 boost to Universal Credit.

The cut is due to impact hundreds of thousands of people across the country, and came into effect on Wednesday.

Sandy Lysaght, a part time wellbeing advisor and recipient of Universal Credit, has had "sleepless nights" about the deduction.

She lives in a rented house with her partner - an archaeologist - and four children.

Sandy LysaghtPicture: Anthony Carroll

Sandy LysaghtPicture: Anthony Carroll - Credit: Archant

Miss Lysaght, 37, said: "I am still stressed about the news. 

"Times are really hard right now.

"We have four children - all between the ages of four and 13.

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"I have had sleepless nights trying to work out our finances."

Miss Lysaght and her family had to move home during Covid - due to her existing landlord selling the property - and the rent on her now home was £245 more expensive.

Due to housing shortages, Miss Lysaght said her family "had no choice" but to move into a home with higher rent.

"The £20 boost went towards the rent which was a huge help," Miss Lysaght added.

"The cost of keeping our house is going to hit us hard."

Miss Lysaght shared that she also has to pay £120 a term for each of her children to take the bus to school.

"We will struggle to pay that," she said.

The mother-of-four said that she was having to cut back on shopping, has cancelled her TV Licence and will have to cut down on presents for her children this Christmas.

"The impact on us is huge," said Miss Lysaght.

"We are a working family who still need the help of Universal Credit to survive.

"Businesses have taken a huge hit during Covid so we can't ask for a raise or overtime.

"I will be honest - I am scared how we are going to manage."

Mike Smith-Clare, Labour councillor in Great Yarmouth. Pic: Labour Party.

Mike Smith-Clare, Labour councillor in Great Yarmouth. Pic: Labour Party. - Credit: Labour Party

Labour councillor Mike Smith-Clare said: "It’s shocking that a large number of local people are living in abject poverty.

"This means not having enough money to buy food, heat their home or pay the bills.

"They are suffering beyond compare - so to cut £20 from their Universal Credit is like removing an essential last lifeline of support.

"It’s beyond cruel to make people suffer this way, let alone pretend that this isn’t a problem."

Councillor Trevor Wainwright, leader of the Labour group in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Councillor Trevor Wainwright, leader of the Labour group in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

Trevor Wainwright, leader of the Labour Group at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: "The Universal Credit cut of £20 per week being implemented today by the government, and supported by our local Conservative councillors, will have an enormous effect on the 14,000 residents in the Borough who receive some form of Universal Credit Payment.

"Many of these residents are already in work, but working on zero-hour contracts.

"At a time when Inflation is at 3.1pc and rising, energy costs up, fuel prices up, an increase in NI Contributions, this cut could not come at a worse time, plunging many more residents into poverty."

UKIP councillor Carrie Talbot said she was "beyond disappointed" with fellow borough councillors, who decided against writing to the government to object to the cut  last week.

"It's really quite sad that there's going to be people choosing between heating and eating this winter," she said.

"I would urge anyone that hasn't done it - and if they're eligible - to apply the Warm Home discount offered by some energy providers.

"The spiel that they ran on about providing training and jobs, that's a future solution to a now problem and unless they have a time machine and can solve now's problems in the future, it is useless."

Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth.

Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Great Yarmouth MP, Brandon Lewis said: "The extra support announced in March 2020 was a temporary measure to support those likely to be facing the most financial disruption as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Now as we open up and our recovery gathers pace, it’s right that focus is switched to getting people back into work and improving their prospects, supported by the Government’s multi-billion-pound plan for jobs, including schemes such as Kickstart.”

Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader Carl Smith has been contacted for comment.