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Blackburn: Town to be 5th worst hit by Universal Credit uplift cuts

BLACKBURN will be the fifth worst hit town in England by the government’s plans to cut Universal Credit in September, a new study has claimed.

Meanwhile Burnley will fair even worse as the fourth affected town once the £20 uplift in universal credit is scrapped later this year, according to research by the Centre for Cities.

The study found that the average claimant will lose around £1,000 a year, with 20.3 per cent of Blackburn’s working age population set to be hit along with 20.6 per cent of Burnley’s

Blackburn MP Kate Hollern said: “The retention of the £20 uplift had cross party support so it is deeply disappointing that the government is determined to scrap this important measure.

“The uplift was by no means perfect, as ESA claimants are not eligible for instance, but it has made a huge difference as people have struggled over the past year and continue to struggle.

She added: “Those on the lowest incomes have been hardest hit during the pandemic, most of their income goes on essentials.

“In many cases living costs have risen with families and children forced to stay at home for months on end.

“If the Government can find £37 billion for a failed test and trace system it can easily find the money to retain this uplift.”

Further afield in Lancashire, Blackpool stands to be the worst affected by the cut, with 21.8 per cent of working aged residents claiming universal credit.

The national government will be scrapping the £20 uplift because, with the pandemic abating, it says that it will no longer be needed.

However The Centre for Cities claims that poorer households in towns like Blackburn and Burnley have both seen their spending fall less since the start of the pandemic and are more likely to have seen their incomes drop.

Their spending had not fallen because these households are more likely to have been already spending the majority of their incomes on necessities, meaning that when the pandemic hit no further savings were possible.

People in Blackburn and Burnley who are claiming Universal Credit are also less likely to see their employment prospects recover compared to people in more affluent parts of the country.

The Centre for Cities study also comes just over a month after figures released by the Office for National Statistics found that over 20 per cent of people living in Blackburn with Darwen were classified as “income deprived”, with average income just £13,741 and 50 local neighbourhoods amongst the worst-off in England.

This left the borough as the tenth most deprived out of 316.

However, Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa Coffey MP has said that other measure will be put in place to help people affected by the pandemic.

Speaking to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee, she said: “Ahead of October we will start communicating with the current claimants to make them aware that will be being phased out and they will start to see an adjustment in their payments.”

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