A BRADFORD based charity has warned that overnight cuts to benefits could leave millions on a "sinking ship" without lifeboats and "desperately fighting for survival".

Christians Against Poverty (CAP), which helps those in debt nationally but has its headquarters in Wapping, has released a report today that uses academic indicators to assess people's financial and mental wellbeing.

It comes amid Government plans to scrap the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift from October this year.

The report, titled "Shipshape or sinking?", used data from a survey of 897 CAP clients and their responses to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Financial Well-Being Scale and Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing (WEMW) scales.

Financial wellbeing is generally defined as being able to meet long-term financial commitments and also make choices that enable enjoyment.

But the survey revealed that almost 50 per cent (47) of the CAP clients rarely or never have money left over at the end of the month and just over 50 per cent (51) said their finances control their life.

Richard (name changed to protect anonymity), who is awaiting six months of treatment for a tumour, had been in a well-established job until he left following a period of sick leave.

Social security payments barely kept Richard’s head above water and he was living in a hostel after having slept in his car for weeks.

He said: "I had no food. I had no money. My income was just not enough to cover everything.

"The analogy I used was I felt like I was in a sinking ship and I was putting plywood in different places but the water was still coming in. I was still sinking."

CAP is urging the Government to "start fixing the boat" by not taking £20 a week off those who are already living with deficit budgets and struggling to survive.

The charity's UK Chief Executive, Paula Stringer, said: “The end of COVID-19 restrictions doesn’t mean an end to the impact it’s having on people’s personal finances.

"With all the challenges millions of families have been facing, they will be carrying forward the financial impact for years to come in the form of household debt.

“The Government is planning to make one of the biggest overnight cuts in history, by reducing Universal Credit and Tax Credit claimants' money by £20 a week and continuing to ignore those on legacy benefits.

“The Shipshape or sinking ship? report has found that the social security system is already a major driver of deficit budgets and lower wellbeing, and the Government is about to make the problem so much worse by cutting benefits like Universal Credit.

"Removing £20 a week from claimants at this stage is equivalent to destroying the lifeboats on a sinking ship, leaving those aboard desperately fighting for survival – we fully expect this action to result in a sharp rise in debt and poverty.

“The UK has so much to gain from giving people the resources they need to achieve high levels of wellbeing.

"High financial and mental wellbeing contribute to improving communities and help boost the economy.

"Helping people improve their wellbeing results in them feeling in control, confident and optimistic about the future, which leads to more jobseekers finding employment, more positive and active communities and a stronger economy."