Community leaders in Lichfield have warned that the proposed £20 a week cut to Universal Credit will be “devastating” for some residents.
An open letter to the city’s MP Michael Fabricant has urged him to support calls to extend the uplift which is due to expire.
It has been signed by leaders at Lichfield Foodbank, Lichfield City of Sanctuary, LifeChurch, St Chad’s Church and the founder of domestic abuse charity Pathway Project.
The group tell Mr Fabricant that “no-one should have to suffer the indignity of not being able to afford the essentials in life”.
“We know that in the difficult winter ahead, people – young and old – in Lichfield will be forced to skip meals.
“We know that families in our city already worry every day about switching on the heating and feeding their children.
“Many families are nearly at breaking point but just about manage to keep their heads above water.
“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 Lichfield Foodbank.
“We believe 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.
“And we’re asking you, Mr Fabricant, to speak for the people of Lichfield who need your support and to oppose the £20 per week cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits.”Open letter to Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant
“Increasing food insecurity in Lichfield”
The letter also revealed that for the 12 month period up until the end of March 2021, there had been a 33% increase in demand for foodbank services across the country – but Lichfield Foodbank saw a 70% jump in the numbers of food parcels handed out.
The increase in use has mirrored a five year period in Lichfield which has seen the amount of food distributed to those in need rocket by 314%.
Lichfield Foodbank chair David Clarke said:
“The statistics we have provided in the letter are extremely concerning. They point to increasing food insecurity in Lichfield, with the number of children requiring emergency food packages particularly upsetting.
“Of course these are just numbers, but we see the people, young and old, behind the numbers each week at our distribution centres.
“We know that they have relied on the uplift in Universal Credit to keep their heads above water, and that many more will be forced to rely on foodbanks to put food on the table if the cut goes ahead.
“At a time when working tax credits have been cut, the furlough scheme is ending, energy prices are increasing in addition to the increase in National Insurance contributions, many people in our community simply will not have enough money for food, heating and clothing.
“We’re asking Mr Fabricant to think of those in need and to oppose the planned cuts.”David Clarke, Lichfield Foodbank