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Cutting Universal Credit is ‘a recipe for disaster’ warns Citizens Advice

5 October 2021

Tomorrow (6 October) the government is due to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week, affecting nearly six million people in England, Scotland and Wales.

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Cutting Universal Credit as we head into a very tough winter is a recipe for disaster.

“With household budgets already being squeezed from all sides, families on the lowest incomes simply cannot afford to lose £20 a week. 

“If the government is serious about ‘levelling up’ it must change course. Otherwise our frontline advisers could see many more facing desperate choices between heating and eating in the months ahead.”

Background information

Research by Citizens Advice shows:

  • More than a third of people on Universal Credit (38%) would be in debt after paying just their essential bills if their benefits drop by £20 a week.

  • 1.5 million working people on Universal Credit could be pushed into hardship this winter if the cut goes ahead. This includes falling behind on bills and needing to borrow from friends and family to get by.

    • Around one in four working claimants - equivalent to 600,000 people - are worried they might not be able to afford food or other basic necessities like toiletries.

  • Almost half (45%) of people earning less than £21,000 per year are worried they’ll struggle to pay their energy bills this winter.

  • The combined impact of a cut to Universal Credit, rising inflation and the loss of the Warm Home Discount when someone’s supplier fails could leave low income families £37.40-a-week worse off this winter.

Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
  2. Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and post. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.
  3. The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for prosecution and defence witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.
  4. Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.
  5. Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  6. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit
  7. For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 to talk in Welsh.
  8. We helped 2.6 million people face to face, by phone, email and webchat in 2017-18. For service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
  9. Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.