Citizens Advice North Lancashire holds public meeting about cut to Universal Credit
Citizens Advice North Lancashire hosted a public meeting in Lancaster on Friday in protest at the Government's planned policy of cutting Universal Credit in September.
Attended by more than 100 people, several speakers joined the Dalton Square event to talk about the policy and the impact that it will have on people locally.
Helen Greatorex, CEO of Citizens Advice North Lancashire, said: "We are so pleased that our meeting had such a good turnout and even more pleased that many people decided to speak spontaneously, talking about the effect that the cut will have on them.
"We see thousands of clients every year and we know that the £20 cut to Universal Credit will have a detrimental impact on people's ability to meet their expenses. We call on the Government not to cut Universal Credit. "
Speakers included Caroline Jackson, leader of Lancaster City Council, Dusty Thomas, trustee at the Morecambe Bay Foodbank and Eggcup, Roger Haydon Mitchell, the chair of the Lancaster District Poverty Truth Commission, Paddy Hunt, a member of the business community and trustee at Morecambe Bay Foodbank, Sue Widden, Research and Campaigns Coordinator for Citizens Advice North Lancashire, Michael Kohl from West End Impact, and Joanna Young from Citizens Advice North Lancashire.
In addition, several people also spoke spontaneously including Lizzi Collinge from the Labour Party, a local teacher and a care worker.
There are currently more than 13,500 Universal Credit claimants in the district who will be impacted by the cut, which will take £271,740 out of the local economy each week when it is implemented in September.
The cut will take benefits to the lowest rate since the Second World War and will affect more than four million households across the UK.
Local charities are extremely concerned that people will find it difficult to budget, and are expecting a rise in people seeking help from advice charities and food banks in the coming months.
With energy prices going up and winter approaching, the third sector is worried about a 'perfect storm' affecting those on the lowest incomes.
Helen Greatorex said: "If you are concerned about this cut, please write to your local MP. It is important that people's voices are heard on this matter.
"As a local charity that has assisted 1,229 people with issues to do with Universal Credit in the past year, we know that this cut will cause hardship, poverty and debt to increase and it is our duty to speak out about it."