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Benefit cut 'could hit 14,000 families in West Norfolk constituencies', research claims

Thousands of people in West Norfolk will feel the pinch from a forthcoming benefit cut, according to a new study.

Analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has concluded that more than 14,000 families across the borough’s two Parliamentary constituencies are set to be affected by the £20 reduction in Universal Credit when it is implemented next month.

And they warn that those losing out will include more than a third of the area’s families with children.

Benefits stock image (50836977)
Benefits stock image (50836977)

The Government says the increased payment was always meant to be a temporary measure to support families during the coronavirus pandemic.

The job retention, or furlough, scheme is also due to close at the end of this month.

But the foundation says the change will see six million families nationally lose more than £1,000 a year in income, plunging up to 500,000 people into poverty.

It said: “The Government is rightly saying that it wants to support people back into work as we emerge from the crisis. But working families make up the majority of families who will be affected.

“Social security adequacy has reduced significantly in recent years and the £20 increase was a vital strengthening of support.”

The foundation estimates 7,250 families in North West Norfolk, plus 7,190 in South West Norfolk will be affected by the change.

The proportion of families with children affected is estimated to be 34 per cent in South West Norfolk and 39 per cent in North West Norfolk.

Dozens of organisations, plus MPs from both sides of the Parliamentary divide, are now urging ministers to think again.

But a government spokesman said: “We are committed to making sure every child gets the best start in life and introduced the temporary uplift as part of a £400 billion support package that has provided a vital safety net for millions of families.

“Children in households where every adult is working are around five times less likely to be in poverty than households where nobody works.

“That is why our focus now is on our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs, which will support people in the long-term by helping them learn new skills and increase their hours or find new work.”

However, Citizens Advice officials in Norfolk have urged claimants who are set to lose out to seek help and support as early as they can.

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