FEARS have been raised over a rise in foodbank use and homelessness following the end of the Universal Credit uplift.

The £20-a-week increase, which was brought in to support people on low incomes during the pandemic, was withdrawn last Wednesday amidst rising energy prices and a potential increase in food costs, with the effects already being felt in parts of Denbighshire.

“The demand on the foodbank has soared since the decision was announced and we desperately need donations,” said Alex Bowen, benefits advisor for the Foryd Community Centre in Rhyl, which provides advice, food parcels and £1 breakfasts for people in financial difficulty.

“People are struggling to decide how best to spend their money, and whether they should pay for heating or food. Some have decided to pay for their heating and come here for food.

“Now is the wrong time as everything is too expensive. Everyone is just worried about how they are going to afford the cost of living.”

One single mum-of-three from Prestatyn who uses Universal Credit said: “I dread to think what I will get paid on next payment with me having three children and bills to pay. It’s hard enough and now it is going to be even harder.

“By the time I get paid it goes on bills and food to last me and the kids, as well as baby things like nappies and wipes. There will be less shopping.”

The end of the uplift means the standard allowance for a single person aged under 25 has dropped to £59 – a decrease of 25 per cent – while for a couple with one person age over 25 the sum will fall to £117 a week, a decline of 15 per cent.

Brian Blakeley, county councillor for Rhyl South East and homelessness champion for the town, said he expects to be contacted by young parents and elderly residents struggling to pay their bills over the winter period.

“This is going to be nightmare for them,” he said. “How the hell are they going to be able to manage with electric and gas prices? Some are struggling at this moment in time to find money to buy food.

“£20 a week is a lot of money and once it is given away then people are going to feel it. More and more may find themselves without a place to live.

“I feel so sorry for them; they are going to have to suffer because a government just doesn’t care. It’s just so unjust.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the uplift was a temporary measure during the pandemic, and now says the extra sum, which would cost up to £6billion a year, is “no longer appropriate”.

Dr James Davies, MP for Vale of Clwyd, who called for another year’s extension earlier this year, when the scheme was instead extended for six months, said: “I certainly understand how significant losing the uplift will be for some. For some claimants, it amounted to the biggest increase to entitlements for 45 years.

"Continued for the long term, I understand that it would equate to an increase in tax on the average household of around £300 per annum. It would be particularly wrong to saddle the 'just about managing' with this additional tax.

“I believe the government ideally needs to be flexible and ensure the approach is targeted and best suits the challenges and employment market conditions faced at the time.”