Record numbers seek mental health and money help ahead of universal credit cut

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A record number of people are seeking support for their mental and financial well-being, figures show, ahead of the widely opposed Universal Credit (UC) cut taking effect.

Removing the £ 20 a week increase will be a “catastrophic cut” that could spiral people’s mental health problems, the charity Mental Health UK has warned.

Visits to its online mental health and money counseling service nearly doubled in one year, from 30,760 in August 2020 to 60,214 last month.

Website traffic analysis also shows a significant increase in the number of people seeking advice on EC application.

These numbers are a harbinger of people struggling as the vital support that kept them afloat during the pandemic is cut off when they need it most.

Visits to a page on how to claim EC for a mental health issue increased nine-fold in one year, from 1,052 to 9,919 pageviews.

Tips on how to claim CUs or complete the process were viewed 4,593 times last month, up from 732 views in August 2020.

And information on how to write off debt is getting four times as many views as it was a year ago.

The increase in UC, which has been described as a “lifeline,” was introduced temporarily to help claimants weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is phased out from the end of September – a move opposed by six former work and pension secretaries, charities, think tanks, teachers and MPs from all political backgrounds.

Brian Dow, Managing Director of Mental Health UK, said: ‘These numbers are a harbinger that people are fighting as the vital support that has kept them afloat during the pandemic is cut off when they need it most. .

“This reduction in universal credit represents a catastrophic reduction in people’s incomes as they feel the impact of record inflation and soaring energy bills.

“It’s not just a financial issue; We are very concerned that these pressures will cause more people to see their mental health problems worsen, making it harder to manage their money worries and push them even further into the red.

“It’s not too late to change course. That is why we are calling on the government to drop its planned reduction in universal credit and ensure it takes an intergovernmental approach to mental health. “

More than a thousand religious leaders are calling on the government to drop the cup.

Our message is clear: stop this before it cripples millions of homes

Some 1,100 leaders, with the support of Church Action on Poverty and Christians Against Poverty, wrote to the Prime Minister calling for a “just and compassionate social security system in which all of our society can be trusted.”

Eunice Attwood, head of Church at the Margins and former vice president of the Methodist Church, said: “Cutting £ 20 a week from families who are just keeping their heads above water cannot be a good thing. .

“Every day we see people in churches and food banks with tremendous potential, bursting with contribution, who cannot move forward because the struggle to make ends meet is overwhelming.

“I urge ministers to come to a church project and see the difference £ 20 a week makes for some families.”

Paula Stringer, Managing Director of Christians Against Poverty in the UK, said: “Our message is clear: stop this before it cripples millions of homes. We will continue to stand in solidarity with those affected by this cut, churches and other charities, calling for this vital lifeline to be preserved. “

A government spokesperson said: “We have always been clear that the increase in universal credit was temporary. It was designed to help claimants get through the economic shock and financial turmoil of the most difficult stages of the pandemic, and it did.

“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support to those who have and do not have a job and it is right that the government focus on our plan for jobs, helping people get back to work and helping those who already have. a job to progress and earn more. “


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