RESIDENTS across Leigh have shared their thoughts on the decision to end the £20 Universal Credit uplift this week, which will affect more than 30,000 people in the borough.

The £20 uplift, created to help people pay their bills during the pandemic, was controversially cut by the Government on Wednesday, October 6, leading to a barrage of criticism that this will deepen problems for those struggling to make ends meet.

The latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions Government show that there were 31,410 people claiming Universal Credit in Wigan and Leigh in July, with 61% of these not in work.

At a time when living, energy and fuel prices are rising, the cut is a crushing blow to 5.8 million claimants across the country who will now lose around £1,000 a year.

Sharing their thoughts on the issue, many Leigh Journal readers spoke of the difficulties families will now face during a tough economic period.

Scott Taylor said: "There's a lot wrong in our country at the moment and taking £20 a week off people at a time when prices and everything is going up seems particularly cruel [...] That's £80.66 a month that they would spend in their local community, so that's local businesses that are going to be down on their takings too."

Similarly, Jayne Marron wrote: "With a country that has food banks putting more and more children into poverty, [the uplift] should be extended."

Cat Smith posted: "Benefits haven't been kept in line with inflation costs for a long time so even with the £20 weekly uplift living costs weren't being met [...] In short [the uplift] should have been made permanent and increased."

Others did have differing opinions however, with Caroline Laura stating: "It was only ever temporary to support with the extra financial burden of covid (increased utility bills, increased food bills with kids at home). Those increased bills should have eased now people can go back to work and the kids are back in school."

Caroline did note that for those "living on the breadline", it will be a tough change to get used to.

Protesting the cut in August, a spokesperson for Wigan Trades Council said: "In a town where many families live on a week-to-week basis, managing tight budgets, these events will have a devastating effect on living conditions. Twenty pounds is nothing to the likes of Boris Johnson but is a lifeline to those on universal credit and low incomes."

In response to the criticism, a Government spokesperson said: “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit and the furlough scheme were temporary.

"They were designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and they have done so."

Universal Credit payments were said to continue providing support for people in and out of work, with the Government switching focus on their Plan for Jobs policy, which aims to support people back into work and help those already working to progress.