Universal Credit cut could spark exodus of 'exhausted' voluntary sector staff, union warns

A planned cut to Universal Credit could cause a mass exodus of charity workers in a sector already “exhausted” by a surge in demand for their services, a union has warned.

The trade union Community, which said it was one of the largest representatives of UK voluntary sector employees, has warned that the increase in demand for charities’ services could spark huge departures of staff.

The union has joined a number of charities, including The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, to highlight how the cut would push about 500,000 people below the poverty line.

The cut, due to come into force from the end of this month, is expected to affect 1.8 million households, including 3.4 million children.

The union said that 15.9 per cent of its third sector members reported that their work/life balance had been negatively affected since the pandemic began as a result of increased demand and 34.1 per cent said the line between work and home had also been negatively affected.

At the same time the union highlighted earlier research, published last year by a group of umbrella bodies, that revealed charities were expecting the pandemic to cause an average decline of 48 per cent in fundraised income, alongside a 43 per cent rise in demand for their services

Additional research published last month found almost two-thirds of charities have faced an increase in demand for their services since the July easing of many government pandemic restrictions.

Adrian Axtell, national secretary at Community, said: “Over the past year-and-a-half, workers in the charity sector have shown a heroic dedication to their roles in the face of truly unprecedented demand for support services.

“Before the pandemic, charity sector services were already stretched thin after over a decade of austerity.

“Charities across the country have seen surges in demand since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now, the cut to Universal Credit is expected to put further strain on the demands of charity services and the members of staff that provide them.

“Our members who work in the charity sector love their jobs, but they’re exhausted and there is only so much more they can take.

“The cut to Universal Credit could be the final blow that will see many flee the sector.”

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