- Citizens Advice across Oxfordshire find on average 49%of people seeking its advice on benefits have never needed its support before
- Number of people claiming Universal Credit in Oxfordshire has risen by on average 110% since the pandemic began
The local charity has warned of the “devastating impact” of a scheduled cut to Universal Credit in April.
Staff and volunteers at Citizens Advice across Oxfordshirehave helped 3104 people with Universal Credit since March last year. Around 49%of people in Oxfordshireseeking its advice on benefits have never contacted the charity before.
Advisers say many needing support from the benefits system have lost their job or suffered a drop in income as a result of the pandemic.
Citizens Advice across Oxfordshire, which has continued to provide one-to-one support throughout the pandemic, warns that local families could be pushed into further hardship if the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift ends as planned in April.
In Oxfordshire the number of people claiming Universal Credit has risen on average by 107% since the pandemic started. This compares to a rise of 93% nationally.
Pat Coomber-Wood, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice North Oxfordshire and South Northants, said:
“We support people every day whose lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic. For many of them, Universal Credit is the lifeline that has helped pay the bills and put food on the table. But households across Oxfordshire now face the devastating prospect of a £20 a week cut to their benefits in just a few short months. With a tough outlook in the jobs market, we’re urging the government to continue doing the right thing and maintain the Universal Credit uplift.”