Thousands of residents could be forced to choose between heating their homes or eating this winter, a charity fears – as it urges the government not to cut Universal Credit.

High Wycombe, despite being in leafy Buckinghamshire, has recently been identified as having one of the highest levels of food poverty in the country – and that is before the £20 uplift in Universal Credit that has been in place since the beginning of the pandemic is cut.

The temporary increase was introduced last year and extended in March, but is due to be scrapped in October.

Citizens Advice Bucks has urged all Buckinghamshire residents to write to their MP and ask them to maintain the “vital” Universal Credit uplift, fearing the impact this will have on the thousands of people already living in poverty in the county.

The charity says it is not just the unemployed who will suffer if the lifeline is cut, as they have seen many of those known as the “working poor” use their services.

They say the “working poor” they have seen includes essential workers like delivery drivers, NHS staff and care workers throughout the pandemic.

More than 29,000 children are already living in poverty across Buckinghamshire, with the charity saying that “behind each one of these children is a family struggling to make ends meet”.

They added: “No family should have to turn to food banks to be able to feed their children. We should not be seeing huge queues at the community food banks as wonderful as they are.

“Food banks were always designed for an absolute emergency not to become a weekly supply of food for those in the greatest levels of poverty.

“With many also facing a cliff edge of losing their employment as a result of furlough this September, there are many more people turning to benefits than ever had to before.”

Head of development and communications at Citizens Advice Bucks, Anna Day, explained why taking action now is so important. She said: “Record numbers of people across Buckinghamshire have been affected by losses of income over the last 18 months as a result of the pandemic.

“We owe it to those families who have worked so hard to home educate their children during Covid, and those key workers that have helped maintain society through a tragic time of loss and hardship not to abandon them now.

“The whole purpose of the furlough scheme and the extension of the benefit scheme was to prevent people from starving and falling into absolute poverty.

“What is the point of that huge investment if we're going to give up now before things have truly improved?”

Jane Mordue, chair of the charity, said it is “totally the wrong time” to be taking the uplift away from struggling residents.

She said: “This lifeline continues to be essential to many. If your income is low or uncertain, you are not going to be looking forward to this coming winter.

“Covid has not gone away, and, another shutdown could still be on the cards, as the death toll increases, as has happened elsewhere despite immunising much of the country.

“The economy is still finding its feet. We know from our clients that their communities are likely to face financial hardship this winter, with rising prices and shortages.

“It is totally the wrong time to pull this lifeline away. It is helping to stop people falling below the breadline.

“If we want to ensure that everyone comes through the pandemic, this would be a vital and humane step to take.”

So far, more than 188,000 people have signed a petition to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey and Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging them not to cut the lifeline.

You can sign the petition at or contact your MP at