A council leader has slammed the Chancellor’s Budget claiming it will “take money out of the pockets of the most deprived”.
Danny Thorpe, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich said: “A decade of austerity and cuts to public services has taken their toll on our poorest residents, with too many people struggling to afford even the most basic amenities like housing, food and fuel.
“This was an opportunity to put people ahead of politics and build a greener and fairer future.
“Instead, the poor get poorer, and future generations will pay for the mistakes we’re making today.”
According to the council, 43 per cent of children in the borough live in poverty after housing costs and Greenwich has one of the lowest GCSE attainment rates in the capital.
Earlier this month, the government scrapped the £20-a-week uplift in Universal Credit, which was part of the government’s emergency Covid-19 support package, decreasing the incomes of six million claimants by over £1,000 a year.
The Budget was announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday October 27.
It has since received backlash from critics who say the new plans only benefit those in work and on Universal Credit – not the unemployed.
Cllr Thorpe said: “Overnight, our most vulnerable residents became even poorer through no fault of their own.
“This has heaped even more pressure on those struggling to make ends meet.
“Furlough has ended, energy bills are higher, food costs are rising, and – now – increased taxes on the lowest incomes, taking money out of the pockets of some of the most deprived in this country.
“Despite repeated calls and significant backlash, the Chancellor has not reversed his hugely unpopular £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit.
“We are seeing the impact this cut has to people in the real world, and it is frankly disgraceful that we are even having to debate whether we take money away from those who are already without it.
“It does not offset the ending of the £20 uplift and does absolutely nothing for the vast majority of the 32,822 Royal Greenwich residents claiming Universal Credit, two thirds of whom cannot work.
“In fact, the benefits for out-of-work adults have not increased in real terms since 1975.
“Ultimately, 22,000 residents in Greenwich are worse off than they were just a few months ago.
“Since last year, we’ve seen a 163 per cent increase of Royal Greenwich households claiming Universal Credit, and a 179 per cent increase for individuals.
“On top of that, rising inflation is eroding the value of benefits. This cut will leave many people without the vital safety net that Universal Credit offers.
“The Greenwich Foodbank has seen a significant spike in food bank use since the removal of the uplift.
“I spoke to the Chief Executive of the Foodbank who said they had received referrals for 27 individuals yesterday afternoon alone, including 14 children.
“While we welcome the announcement on public sector pay rises for our hardworking staff and business rates relief for our small businesses, our poorest and most vulnerable residents have not been prioritised.”
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