Staffordshire University report says benefit changes could reduce City’s economy by £30m

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Over £30m could be lost from Stoke-on-Trent’s economy in the next year if planned cuts to Universal Credit go ahead, according to academics at Staffordshire University

More than 30,000 households across Stoke-on-Trent will be more than £1,000 worse off if government presses ahead with plans to withdraw the £20 ‘uplift’ introduced as part of the measures to help households through the pandemic.

The stark statistics are contained in a new report ‘Powering Up or Reducing Inequalities?’  which assesses the impact of benefit cuts and the withdrawal of the furlough scheme on the city.

Report author Professor David Etherington said: “Earlier this year we published a report assessing the impact of the Covid crisis on poverty and destitution in Stoke-on-Trent. The COVID-19 crisis has caused rising unemployment and alarmingly high numbers - over 50,000, a third of the working age population - claiming Universal Credit, Employment Support Allowance and other benefits.

“As benefits are set at an extremely low level, the key issue is that large sections of the population are reliant upon insufficient incomes to maintain an even basic standard of living. A clear indication of this is the dramatic increase in numbers receiving food aid by food banks in the Stoke-on-Trent area.”

The report findings, carried out in conjunction with Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent, reveal that:

  • The number of Universal Credit claimants in Stoke-on-Trent amounts to 30,025 comprising 18,511 and 11, 514 who are in work.
  • The numbers of households in receipt of Universal Credit in Stoke increased from 14,359 to 21,058 between March 2020 and May 2021 equating to 19 percent of all households.
  • Over 10,000 claims were made under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme up to June 2021 and there are concerns about how many businesses can continue when both schemed are withdrawn.
  • 1,848 adults and 2,768 children from 945 families received food aid between January and August 2021, exceeding the combined total aid provided in 2018 and 2019 (source Alice Charity, August 2021).
  • Increasing price inflation and the raising of energy price cap by Ofgem is likely to have a substantial negative impact on poorer households

The report calls for an austerity impact assessment to understand how government spending cuts are impacting Stoke-on-Trent’s poorest communities and a campaign to help people to claim the benefits which they are entitled to.

Simon Harris from Citizen Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke on Trent said: “This is an especially worrying time of year for families living in our area, many of which are struggling to put food on the table and pay bills. We back calls for an extension to the “£20 uplift” in Universal Credit and the furlough scheme which is affecting many working families.”

Professor Martin Jones, Staffordshire University Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Designate, added: “We believe urgent intervention is needed to retain jobs in our City and address skills shortages. As a University we have a critical role to play in retraining and upskilling local people who may have lost jobs through the pandemic and providing courses that prepare people for the careers of the future.”

Maria Scrivens

Communications Manager

t: 01782 294375

m: 07766 520339


Staffordshire University is the Connected University; connected to the needs of students, academic partners, business and society. Our main city campus in Stoke-on-Trent features excellent learning and teaching facilities and good transport links. We have specialist Centres of Excellence in Healthcare Education at Stafford and Shrewsbury.  

We were recognised with a Gold award in the 2019 Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) for delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for students.  

We were shortlisted for University of the Year at the THE Awards 2020 and were named ‘Midlands University of the Year’ at the Midlands Business Awards 2020. 
Staffordshire University has signed up to the Civic University Agreement, pledging to play a leading role in improving the regional economy and enhancing quality of life in local communities. We were recognised in the top 15 for social inclusion in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. We aim to be a leading university for digital technologies building on our proud computing heritage and in 2019 launched Staffordshire University London’s Digital Institute which is committed to preparing students for careers in new and emerging tech industries. 

We are a Top 250 Young University (Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2020) and are connected globally, with more than 11,000 people studying Staffordshire University degrees overseas.