A CHARITY leader has warned the scrapping of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit will mean its clients will have to choose between heating and eating.

The £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit was introduced in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic and is due to be withdrawn at the end of this month.

A new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates that 4,330 families in Westmorland and Lonsdale will be affected by the cut.

Kendal based charity Manna House, which supports people who are homeless or vulnerably housed in the area, has criticised the Government and said it was ‘out of touch’.

But a government spokesman said it was ‘right’ to end the uplift and focus on its Plan for Jobs, ‘supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more’.

“Sadly, the people driving the policies have clearly never been hungry or poor or both,” said Clare Neal, learning kitchen manager at Manna House.

“£20 could equate to a week’s food or electric and sadly our clients may have to choose between the two.

“When the chancellor thinks £20 is negligible to a vulnerable person, he reveals that his party is out of touch in a society where food banks in towns are more plentiful than high street monetary banks.”

Recently, Manna House joined with MP Tim Farron and representatives from local organisations such as South Lakes Housing and Cumbria County Council in writing to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, urging him not to go ahead with the cut.

“It’s worth pointing out something like two thirds of people on Universal Credit in our area are working,” said Mr Farron.

“People who are working very hard but are on low wages, and so to remove what is basically £1,000 a year from those families will be to create enormous hardship.

“It feels like some of the hardest working people in our community are going to be penalised and It seems incredibly heartless to do it."

“I think the Government should hang its head in shame.”

A Government spokesperson said that it has spent more than £400bn in support during the pandemic and that £9bn will have been spent on the Universal Credit uplift by the time it ends in September.

“As announced by the Chancellor at the Budget, the uplift to Universal Credit was always temporary,” said the spokesman.

“It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.

“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work and it’s right that the Government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”