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Cambridge City Foodbank issues plea ahead of ‘devastating’ universal credit cut

Cambridge City Foodbank is urging people to write to their MP as a survey from the Trussell Trust reveals the ‘devastating’ impact of the planned £20 cut to universal credit payments.

Margaret Saner CEO, Cambridge City Foodbank . Picture: Keith Heppell. (51143943)
Margaret Saner CEO, Cambridge City Foodbank . Picture: Keith Heppell. (51143943)

The research, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Trussell Trust, found that a fifth of people currently claiming universal credit say they are “very likely” to need to skip meals when the cut hits and 21 per cent of people surveyed would struggle to heat their homes this winter.

The government is set to slash benefits by £20 a week from October 6.

The foodbank provided nearly 10,000 emergency food parcels to local people in the Cambridge area between April 2020 and March 2021, of which 3,722 went to children.

Margaret Saner, the foodbank’s CEO, said: “We’ve been providing emergency support to local people since 2010 and although we’ll always do whatever we can to get people the help they need, no one in Cambridge should be struggling to afford the essentials.

“We don’t want even more people to need our help this winter. But this is the biggest overnight cut to social security since the Second World War and will be a huge blow for millions of families both in and out of work.

“It’ll also land right at the start of what is usually our busiest time of the year, just as the colder weather starts drawing in.

“Social security should be strong enough for all of us to rely on when we need a lifeline – because, as the pandemic has shown us, life is full of things we can’t plan for. #

“The UK government must choose to protect people when they need support, not cut them adrift. If you agree, please write to Daniel Zeichner MP (Cambridge) or Anthony Browne MP (South Cambridgeshire) and ask them to help keep the lifeline.”

Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said: “Cutting this lifeline will be a devastating blow for many people across Cambridgeshire already struggling to make ends meet.

“These are families already caught in impossible situations who worry every day about switching on the heating and feeding their children. Families who are nearly at breaking point but just about managing to keep their heads above water.

“This research reveals the shocking consequences of what lies ahead if this lifeline is cut in October. No one should have to suffer the indignity of not being able to afford the essentials in life – like food. That’s why we’re saying it would be wrong of the UK government to take away £20 a week from already precarious incomes and push even more people through the doors of food banks.

“The answer must be to ensure our social security system provides people with enough money to cover the essentials. At the very least we’re saying this October, the UK government must choose to protect people and choose to keep the lifeline.”

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