Furlough warning: 1.4million Britons ran out of money BEFORE payday last year

Universal Credit: DWP member on informing claimants

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A YouGov survey commissioned by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) found that around 1.4million people in Scotland missed paying crucial bills, despite the existence of the furlough scheme and Universal Credit uplift. The charity found that 32 percent of Scots ran out of money either “always”, “most of the time”, or “sometimes”. Taking into account the most recent population figures for Scotland, CAS estimates that 1.4million people ran out of cash in 2020.

This figure is expected to rise within the next couple of months due to certain pending actions by the UK Government which are set to affect the personal finances of millions across the nation.

CAS’ survey spoke with 1032 Scots of adult age between May 20 to May 25, 2021, months before the changes to furlough and Universal Credit.

Earlier this year, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that Universal Credit payments will be cut by £20 per week, ending the Government’s financial uplift during the pandemic.

This is the equivalent to £1040 a year for households and benefit payments are set to be slowly reduced by October 6, 2021.

On top of this, as part of Mr Sunak’s Budget announcement, the Government confirmed its furlough scheme will finish at the end of September.

Furlough was utilised heavily by employers in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Government topping up workers wages while business operations were disrupted.

Furthermore, the energy price cap is set to rise from October 1 for around 15million customers across the UK.

Britons on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see an increase of £139 from £1,138 to £1277.

As well as this, prepayment customers will see an increase of £153 from £1,156 to £1309 on their energy bills.

Official figures from the Consumer Prices Index found that the increase in the cost of living hit 3.2 percent in the year to August.

This represents the single biggest jump in prices since records began in 1997, emphasising the amount of bills households need to pay during this period in time.

Rory Mair CBE, the Chair of Citizens Advice Scotland, outlined how concerning these statistics should be in evaluating the lack of support Britons have going forward into the year.

Mr Mair said: “These are staggering figures, and show the extent of financial insecurity across the country.

“The reality is a lot of people are one big unexpected bill, or a sudden drop in income, away from being in real trouble.

“The coming weeks could see drops in income and higher bills for millions, with furlough ending, Universal Credit set to be cut by £20 per week and energy bills going up.

“People are facing a perfect storm.”

However, the financial expert also advertised the services provided by Citizens Advice, which provide guidance for people looking to manage their money better.

“Our message to policy makers is to make income and living standards central to the economic recovery from Covid, but people should also be aware that the Citizens Advice network is here to help,” Mr Mair explained.

“We have set up www.moneymap.scot, an online tool which rounds up all your options to increase your income and cut your bills.

“The CAB network helped over 171,000 people last year and our advice adds up.

“We’ve been helping people for over 80 years and we’re here to help people now.”

Anyone concerned about managing their money and bills after the end to furlough and the Universal Credit uplift should contact Citizens Advice immediately.

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