UK charity food banks ‘brace for the worst’ as government begins to end emergency aid measures put in place to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on millions of workers and low-income households income, reports Reuters.
An additional £ 20 (US $ 27) weekly payment to support the country’s poorest families will be phased out next month, and more than a million workers face an uncertain future as Britain becomes the first major economy to end its Covid employment support program.
Food banks, which distribute staples ranging from dried pasta to baby food, are particularly concerned about the loss of the Universal Credit Supplement (UC), claimed by nearly 6 million people, according to official statistics.
The UK move comes as other countries begin to buckle state aid programs announced last year as Covid beat the global economy.
In the United States, pandemic unemployment benefits that have supported millions of unemployed workers, concert workers and business owners ended in early September, a month after a moratorium on residential evictions expired.
Australia and Canada have also announced their intention to end income subsidies in the near future.
A UK government spokesperson said the increase in income allowances was still supposed to be temporary and had been effective in mitigating the pandemic’s impact on family finances, adding that the focus was now on helping people to return to work.
Nationally, more than 800,000 people will fall into poverty because of the cut in benefits, according to UK think tank Legatum Institute.
A fifth of benefit claimants said they would “very likely” need to skip meals once the mark-up was withdrawn, a survey of more than 2,000 people for the Trussell Trust found.
A similar number said they would struggle to afford to heat their homes.