Union demands £20 back on Universal Credit to stop households in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber from failing deeper into poverty.

Members of Unite Community, the union representing people not in paid work, will be unveiling a giant ‘snakes and ladders’ board at the City Square in Leeds on Friday 8 July, to highlight how the cost of living crisis is hitting households across the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber harder.

WHEN:    11:00-13:00, Friday 8 July
WHERE: City Square, Leeds, LS1 2HT

Unite is demanding the immediate restoration of the £20 Universal Credit payment brought in at the start of the pandemic, but snatched back by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak in October 2021, taking £1,040 a year from household incomes.

The action in Leeds comes amid reports that households in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber are the most vulnerable to falling into poverty as fuel and food prices soar. According to the Centre of Progressive Policy’s ‘vulnerability index’, 10 of the top 30 local authority areas ‘most vulnerable to poverty’ are in the region, including Middlesbrough, Hull and Redcar.

The union is warning that seven million UK homes are already struggling to make ends meet – but the situation is being made worse by profiteering companies that are loading costs onto ordinary people so that they can hoard more boardroom cash.

In June, Unite revealed how profiteers are forcing up the costs of basics like energy costs, so further fuelling inflation.

The ‘snakes and ladders’ board, measuring five metre square, takes players on the relentless ups and downs confronting people as they struggle to climb out of poverty but are hit by government cuts and soaring energy and food costs.

Local faith leaders and community organisations have been invited to join with people hardest hit by the cost of living crisis to play the game. Players ‘climb out of poverty’ when Universal Credit is raised or the union wins a pay rise, only to tumble back down when rents go up or energy bills soar.

Unite Community is taking 10 ‘snakes and ladders’ boards to cities and towns across the UK this summer, to demand that our elected representatives do more to tackle the cost of living crisis, by fighting for better wages, decent pensions and the reinstatement and extension of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit.

Unite Community coordinator, Heather Blakey said: “Poverty is no game.  It’s a real-life misery for growing numbers across the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber - and it is being made worse by big business passing on price rises so that they can boost their profits.

“A price rise of a few pence for someone on Universal Credit or earning the minimum wage can put that product out of reach.  Incomes are that stretched, and it is getting worse.  People on benefits urgently need the £20 taken off their incomes by Rishi Sunak restored.

 “Unite Community is going on the road this summer to tell the truth about exactly what is going wrong with the economy. Pensioners, people with disabilities unable to work, unpaid carers and many more are on the breadline already and we fear things will only get worse. 


Notes to editors:

Unite Community represents benefit claimants and is part of Unite, the UK and Ireland’s leading union, opening union membership and activism to people not in paid employment.

For more information please contact, Unite Community coordinator, Heather Blakey on 07980710022 or email: [email protected]

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.