Keep the lifeline
The #KeeptheLifeline campaign calling on the Chancellor to make the £20/week increase to Universal Credit payments permanent and extend it to legacy payments continued to gain momentum, with over 150,000 petition signatures.
PIP delay appeals NI
NI Assembly members questioned the Communities Minister about a backlog of nearly 6,000 pending appeals of PIP decisions, some dating back four years. The Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman is in the midst of an investigation into how DFC payments are administered.
In more scrutiny of the welfare payment and sanction system, the Trussell Trust published food bank research indicating that half of all households relying on food banks to eat could not afford basic food and essentials because of having to repay universal credit debt. The organisation said that its research showed that at this point, people using food banks are more likely to be in debt to the government than to family, friends or payday loan companies.
Support to the art and culture sector NI
The Department for Communities announced additional funding of £3.25m for emergency support to individuals -- artists, musicians, craftspeople, writers -- working in this sector who are experiencing hardship due to the pandemic.