Woman, 64, found herself struggling to pay for electricity to keep warm on ...

UNIVERSAL CREDIT payments have been frozen since April 2016, where a cap was introduced by the then chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne. However, MPs have now voted to end the freeze, meaning a range of benefits and tax credits will rise from April 2020.

PUBLISHED: 07:00, Wed, Feb 12, 2020 | UPDATED: 07:30, Wed, Feb 12, 2020

Income-related benefits are set to increase inline with inflation, which is currently 1.7 percent. This will likely be welcome news for many claimants, with some caps on benefits having been in place since as far back as 2010. Despite the good news however, some feel that ending the benefits freeze does not go far enough.

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New analysis from Citizens Advice details that almost four in ten households that seek debt advice and receive benefits would not have enough money to cover their costs by 2024, even if these new rises are factored in and continue in future years.

Citizens Advice found that the number of people who are unable to cover their living costs have increased since the benefits freeze began in 2016.

In the first five months of the current financial year, 40 percent of the people the charity helped with debt who claimed income-related benefits didn't have enough money to cover their living costs - an increase of 25 percent since the freeze came into effect.

READ MORE: Universal Credit Money Manager tool: What is it and how does it work?

Universal CreditSome may find that Universal Credit income will not stretch far enough to cover bills (Image: GETTY)

GovermentThe Government have acknowledged theres an issue and they are taking steps to fix it (Image: GETTY)

The organisation highlighted the story of Sheila, a 64 year old woman who works part time and receives Universal Credit. They detail that her payments can change on a monthly basis, making it hard for her to budget and cover monthly costs. Sheila lives in a council flat and is currently in rent arrears, resulting in her resorting to food banks.

As Sheila details: “Quite often I don't have any electric, so I'm very cold. I can’t even make a hot water bottle to keep warm, or make a hot drink. I have to stay under the duvet.

“Even in the months when I am paid my full Universal Credit and wages it's still really hard to afford everything, including food.

“It's all swings and roundabouts, I just don't have enough money coming in to pay the council tax and rent arrears, the actual council tax, buy food and top up my gas and electric.”

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Citizens Advice is calling for the government to help address these kinds of issues by increasing income-related benefits by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) plus two percent for four years.

They’re also calling for Local Housing

read more.....

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