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Gillingham Street Angels worker speaking on KentOnline's The Lowdown predicts rise in people needing help


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A charity worker predicts more people needing help after the £20 universal uplift credit was removed earlier this month.

Neil Charlick, from Gillingham Street Angels, which supports the homeless and vulnerable in Medway, was speaking on KentOnline's The Lowdown, a regular live-stream where panel members discuss topics in the news.

Offering a shocking insight into the poverty witnessed by the charity, he spoke of a man wrapping himself in his own curtains to keep warm last winter.

When asked by The Lowdown host Oliver Kemp how the Gilingham Street Angels staff responded to news that the universal credit uplift would be removed on October 6, Mr Charlick said: "We just concentrated on knowing we would need to get more food.

"Last month 8,000 people were fed and that's just going to increase and it's getting tougher and tougher for charities out there. It's costing us about £12,000-15,000 to run the charity.

"It isn't just food that's the problem. Poverty isn't just food. It's pet poverty, furniture, sanitary wear, clothes, it's a terrible situation.

"It's quite heartbreaking when you're talking to some of these people. We had a conversation with somebody last winter who takes his curtains down to wrap himself up to keep himself warm."

During the discussion, held yesterday evening, Mr Charlick was joined by Giovanna Hyde, who is on universal credit while building her business, and Medway Conservative councillor Robbie Lammas.

Ms Hyde, who cannot work as she suffers with a number of medical conditions, said even though her partner had recently got a job, they were still struggling.

She said: "Even now we are struggling. Yes he's working, but he's not getting that much more than he was getting anyway on universal credit.

"They have put up our council tax now so literally all his money is going to bill and debts and everything in between."

When asked about the removal of the uplift, which was introduced to help people get through the Covid-19 pandemic, Cllr Lammas said: "The first thing is the cost. The annual cost to add the uplift permanently is about 6.6bn a year.

Neil Charlick, from Gillingham Street Angels
Neil Charlick, from Gillingham Street Angels

"That's something that would have to be funded by at least, by my approximation, a 1% increase in house gain taxation."

He said he would rather see, instead of a permanent uplift, people keeping more of what they earn.

The Lowdown is streamed live Monday - Thursday at 6pm, on KentOnline's Facebook page.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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