In a matter of weeks, the Government will cut the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit. This cut will push 700,000 families further into poverty.
For millions of families across the country, the £20 a week top-up to Universal Credit introduced during the pandemic has been a lifeline, putting food on the table and money on the meter.
With the economic impact of the pandemic far from over, the Government should be working towards lifting families out of poverty and not pushing families further into hardship.
Recent research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that the cut will take an estimated £1,040 from the budgets of around 5.5 million families – including 8,580 families in my own Battersea constituency.
This would be devastating for many people who are already struggling to get by, especially those with children and single parents.
They also found that the withdrawal of this uplift will risk pushing a further 700,000 people, including 300,000 children, into poverty at time when unemployment is expected to dramatically increase due to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme coming to an end.
This needless and cruel cut is simply unacceptable. Not only that, the Government has neglected those who are supported by legacy social security from the beginning, failing to apply the £20 uplift to those receiving Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
The 1.7 million disabled people claiming ESA, including many in my constituency, have been among the hardest hit by additional costs associated with living in a pandemic and will be disproportionately affected by these cuts. It is unacceptable that well over a year on, this increase has not been applied to legacy social security payments.
There is now near universal opposition to the plan to cut Universal Credit from the public, MPs – including six former Conservative Work and Pensions Secretaries of State – along with charities.
Last week, I wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP calling on him to cancel the £20 a week cut to Universal Credit, and instead extend the uplift to those receiving legacy social security support.
While I believe significant work needs to be done to build a compassionate social security system which provides a proper safety net for families and individuals, we must take urgent action now for the sake of low-income families who rely on Universal Credit.
A fair and equal recovery from the pandemic requires the Government to recognise that the challenges families are now facing will not go away overnight.
While they say that with economy reopening they want to focus on getting people back into work, they are failing to acknowledge that a third of people on Universal Credit are already in work.
They must therefore do what is right and cancel the cruel cut to Universal credit and extend the uplift to people receiving legacy social security support.
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