As Britain continues to sink into an economic black hole, the poorest will suffer extremes in falling living standards enabled by an uncaring government.– Letter from Great Britain- [10-16-21]

THE recent withdrawal of  £20 a week in universal credit is having a severe impact on those unable to keep up with all the increasing costs now feeding rapidly though the British economy.

“Nearly 6 million people claiming universal credit will soon see their payment cut by £20 a week, as the temporary “uplift” in response to the pandemic is removed.  Analysis from the anti-poverty charity Joseph Rowntree Foundation described it as “the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since the foundation of the modern welfare state”.

Whitehall’s own analysis described the cut as “catastrophic”, and predicted increases in homelessness and poverty. At the same time, the cost of living is rising, including large increases in energy bills, and is expected to hit lower income households the hardest.


Claiming universal credit impacts individuals and families in many ways beyond the financial. The emotional, mental and physical impacts are dire – and a £20 cut will have devastating impacts on many people’s wellbeing.

In my fieldwork on people’s experiences of “getting by” while claiming universal credit, I heard first-hand accounts of the mental toll of their experiences. I spoke with 15 individuals aged between 20 and 62 years old with a range of personal circumstances.

Four interviewees were working and the rest were either looking for work, not considered fit for work or had caring responsibilities.  As this research took place before the COVID-19 “uplift”, their stories offer a glimpse into what many more individuals and families will experience after the £20 cut.   All participants were concerned about money. The majority could not afford essentials such as food and utilities, and some feared losing their homes. Zara explained how this made her feel.”  Read on to understand real-life experiences:

BUT to understand how these limited welfare benefits work in the real economy, it is worth reading this analysis and comparing it with you own budgets – see how you could manage.

“The adequacy of benefits has deteriorated gradually over the past decade. In 2010, the family safety net was worth about two-thirds of the minimum income standard for families with children. Today it is barely half. This £20 cut will be a sharp blow to the 6 million claimants already struggling to get by on low incomes.

To understand the implications of the cut, we need to compare what people can afford while on universal credit, to what they actually need.

For the past 13 years, my team at Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Social Policy has captured what the public considers to be a minimum living standard, allowing people to meet their material needs and participate in society.

            This minimum income standard is compiled by asking groups of members of the public to discuss and agree on a detailed list of items that should go into a minimum household budget.

After costing and adding up these lists, we estimated that in 2021 a single person would require £213 a week, with different amounts specified for households according to how many children and adults live in them. More than one in four people in the UK do not have enough to afford these budgets, but they represent what people think is needed to live in dignity in the UK today.

The £20 cut to universal credit will place many hundreds of thousands of households below this minimum income standard.  The following cases illustrate how this cut could impact the livelihoods of two different households – with and without children – in urban areas outside of London.

            Case 1: a single person, driven to destitution A single person over the age of 25 and out of work will have their entitlement cut from £94.70 to just £74.70 per week. This is to cover all their costs other than rent and a partial rebate of council tax, to which people on very low incomes are eligible. This is only about a third of what they need to reach the £213 minimum income standard.  Let’s look at what they can afford on that £74.70.

They will typically have to contribute about £3.50 a week to council tax, not covered by the rebate. Then they will need to cover travel costs. Most out-of-work people receiving universal credit will need to show that they are looking for work, across a wide area, and they need to travel to do that. If they cannot show this, their income will be zero. Many will also need to travel to shop for food.

A bus pass, plus any expenses to travel further afield to look for work, typically costs about £30 a week. This leaves only £41 a week to cover everything else –- food, heating, clothes, household goods, toiletries and other everyday expenses. It’s sobering to realise that the £20 weekly temporary universal credit increase, which seems modest to most people, has given some people half as much to spend on these items.

£41 a week is less than £6 a day available to spend on life’s necessities, compared to £9 a day before the cut in universal credit. In our research, we estimate that food alone costs a minimum of £7 a day. This makes the rising use of food banks unsurprising, and it shows how the the “safety net” offered to someone in this situation does not in fact guarantee any form of safety. Rather, it produces what the anti-poverty charity Joseph Rowntree Foundation classifies as “destitution” – not being able to afford certain essential items, including food and heating.”  Read on for Case 2:

AND Britain may be entering a prolonged period of crisis now, one that may be on par or even exceeds the emergencies of the late 1970s. Brits face a gasoline shortage because of the lack of truck drivers, dwindling natural gas supplies, and soaring power bills.

There’s also been food shortages and panic buying of essential goods that have driven up prices and made the situation much worse. A more extended crisis is occurring within the country’s food supply chain. The latest figures from the National Pig Association (NPA) warn 120,000 pigs will be culled because of labour shortage.

The food industry is just one of the many industries experiencing severe disruptions and chaos that could trigger a “winter of discontent” for many Brits. A group of international transport organizations issued a chilling warning of the potential collapse of supply chains in the coming months, and they’re asking world leaders to do something to avert what could be a catastrophe.

In an open letter released this week, they spelled out the stakes of continued delays caused by pandemic protocols. They asked the UN, the World Health Organization and anyone else listening to intervene to prevent a “global transport systems collapse.” According to the leaders of the shipping industry, nobody is listening, and a global disaster could be the result.

Brits are already facing sudden increases in motoring costs.  Motorists are not only having to contend with empty pumps brought on by panic-buying amid fears of fuel shortages due to a lack of delivery drivers; they are also paying sky-high prices for their fuel because of a spike in the oil price.

Both fuels are now at prices last seen eight years ago and are closing in on the record highs of 2012.  Unleaded went up 1.5p to 136.83p in September, making it 22p a litre more expensive than a year ago, according to the RAC.  Diesel rose by 2.5p to 139.25p, 21p dearer than September 2020.

The rise at the pumps has been driven by a 10.65 per cent increase in the price of oil from $71.29 to $78.88 throughout September.  RAC fuel spokesman, Simon Williams, said: “As life moves ever closer to normal as the world gets to grips with Covid-19, demand for oil is outpacing supply, and with producer group OPEC+ deciding on Monday not to release more oil, the barrel price has now broken through the $80-mark for the first time in more than three years.”

He added:  “This looks likely to spell further misery for drivers at the pumps as we head towards Christmas, especially as some analysts are predicting the price could even hit $90 before the end of the year. “If this were to happen, we could see the average price of unleaded hit a new record of around 143p per litre. Diesel would shoot up to 145p which is only 3p off the record high of 147.93 in April 2021.”

HOWEVER, regardless of Covid and its ongoing ramifications, energy is fundamental to how our modern economies work.  Biosecurity is one thing – but the lack of energy security kills quicker and more efficiently. “This was conclusively demonstrated earlier this year in Texas. A swift series of winter storms crashed the Texan grid when gas infrastructure failed in the cold, renewables weren’t delivering, and the deregulation of its energy system had delinked Texas from both US power Grids – making it difficult to import energy. Over 200 people died as a result of power outages.

Fast forward to this winter, and the UK and Europe are in the direct firing line of the coming energy storm. The security of energy supplies has never looked less certain. In the UK, neglected storage means we have the capacity to story 3-4 days of Gas. The recent collapse in sterling has been linked to the panic over Petrol supplies, escalating and cascading supply chain failures impacting industry and growing woes blamed on Brexit. I would add questions about how the UK’s status as a first world economy with zero energy security will line up.  How has this happened? Why?

Well… that’s a long tale… But, it will be mightily embarrassing for the Boris Johnson Government if the first UK power outages occur during the COP26 Climate Circus in Glasgow in November.  COP26 has driven the Government’s agenda and ambition to be seen as more green, more carbon neutral and more ESG than anyone else. I’ve heard tales of cabinet ministers throwing sweary hissy fits when asked to support policies that don’t immediately square with green policies perceived as vote winners.”  Read on for a full explanation:

“This winter – people are going to die of cold.  As the price of energy goes higher, the costs will fall disproportionately upon the poorest in Society. Income inequalities will be dramatically exposed as the most vulnerable in society face a stark choice: Heat or Eat.

That has all kind of social consequences. Can you imagine how the Gillet Jaunes in France will react ahead of the French elections in April? And what about the prospect for riots as fuel prices hit the poorest communities and ethnic groups in the UK?

This winter the UK is likely to be on its knees begging energy from wherever it’s available. Europe will be in as much trouble. The Middle East will be charging whatever they can get away with, and the capacity to deliver is limited. The much vaunted energy-independence of the US will be tested – it unlikely they will be minded to export. That will leave government with a stark choice – let people freeze or pay the cost, probably triggering a balance of payments crisis and a further confidence crash in sterling.”

BREXIT: Up to 50% of customs checks on goods entering Northern Ireland would be lifted, along with more than half the checks on meat and plants, under a bold offer from Brussels. The olive branch will be extended on Wednesday, with Maroš Šefčovič, the EU’s Brexit commissioner, expected to say the proposals are not “take it or leave it” and he recognises the protocol has not worked well enough.

ADVERSE REACTIONS:  “Latest UK PHE Vaccine Surveillance Report figures on Covid cases show that doubly vaccinated 40-70 year olds have lost 40% of their immune system capability compared to unvaccinated people. Their immune systems are deteriorating at around 5% per week (between 2.7% and 8.7%). If this continues then 30-50 year olds will have 100% immune system degradation, zero viral defence by Christmas and all doubly vaccinated people over 30 will have lost their immune systems by March next year.”  Read more:

To be continued next week.