St Mungo’s warns of serious risk of increased homelessness as Universal Credit ‘lifeline’ is cut

Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has warned that the Government’s decision to end the Universal Credit uplift will lead to an increase in the number of people facing homelessness this winter.

Today (6 October) the £20-a-week increase, which was introduced as a ‘safety net’ during the pandemic, comes to an end.

There have been calls from across the political spectrum, and from multiple charitable and social justice organisations for the uplift to be made permanent.

Analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says the cut risks plunging 500,000 people into poverty, including 200,000 children.

With other research estimating the cut could put more than 100,000 renters at risk of eviction, and a coalition of youth homelessness charities warning that it will leave vulnerable young people at risk of repeat homelessness.

With the uplift and the furlough scheme ending, and with energy costs and inflation rising, many people are expected to struggle over the coming months.

St Mungo’s Chief Executive Steve Douglas CBE said: “We have been highlighting this as a serious risk since it was announced that this crucial support was to be ended. And, as part of the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping, we again called for the uplift to be maintained, and we reiterate that. For many, this money is a vital lifeline which today is being cut.

“We know from our work of the huge impact that financial changes, which some people may consider small, can have on people who are just about making ends meet. And for many the end of this increase will be what tips them in to poverty, and potentially homelessness.

“The Government has expressed its desire for more people to get into work, but our research on the ‘hidden issue’ of temporary workers at risk of homelessness shows the reality that many people who are employed can still be at risk of, and experience, homelessness.

“We support and share the Government’s ambition to end street homelessness but decisions such as this seem counter to that ambition and are likely to result in more people losing their homes – which nobody wants. We urge them to reconsider.”

The ending of the uplift comes on the day that the Prime Minister is due to address the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.