100 civil society groups urge Boris Johnson to ditch universal credit cut
A coalition of 100 groups urged Boris Johnson to abandon the impending reduction in universal credit – saying it would “fundamentally undermine” his stated mission to tackle inequality.
Ending the £ 20 per week increase introduced to help claimants weather the storm of the Covid crisis will cause “immense, immediate and preventable hardship,” charities, unions and think tanks have said.
The government plans to start phasing out the £ 1,040 per year increase in the Universal Credit and Work Tax Credit from the end of September, depending on claimants’ payment dates.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has resisted calls this week to maintain the rise, insisting the time has come to focus on encouraging people to return to work.
However, the coalition said most of the people who will be affected by the reduction are already working and warn that it will undermine the government’s mission to “level” the country.
In an open letter to Mr Johnson, activists wrote: “We are rapidly approaching a national crossroads which will reveal the true depth of the government’s commitment to improving the lives of lower income families.”
They added: “The imposition of what is effectively the largest overnight reduction in the basic social security rate since World War II will put unnecessary financial strain on an estimated 5.5 million families, at the expense of the economy. both at work and unemployed.
“This cut risks causing immense, immediate and preventable hardship. A strong social security system is a crucial first step in building back better. We strongly urge you to make the right decision.
The coalition – which includes Save the Children, Citizens Advice and the National Education Union – said 413 parliamentary constituencies across Britain would see at least a third of working-age families with children affected.
Save the Children said 3.5 million children live in households that will be affected by the reduction, while research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) shows the move could push 500,000 people into poverty, including 200,000 children.
The move is now being challenged by many civil society groups across the country, six former labor and pension secretaries and MPs from all political backgrounds, including a growing number of conservative backbenchers.
Concern within the ranks of the Conservatives increased over the summer. Last week, two Conservative ‘red wall’ MPs from northern England – Peter Aldous and John Stevenson – wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to abandon his plan to end the uprising.
Mr Johnson could face a House of Commons vote on a planned universal credit cut two days after MPs return from summer recess. A source said The independent that Labor was “likely” to force a vote on the issue, but this has yet to be officially confirmed.
But if the Prime Minister goes ahead with the cut, it will officially go into effect on October 6 – the same day as his Conservative Party conference speech.
The open letter from charities follows calls from top politicians in each of the UK’s four countries this week. Multi-party committees from Westminster, Stormont, Holyrood and Senedd have written to Ms Coffey asking the government to make the additional payment permanent.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has not released its impact assessment for the impending move. A government spokesperson said: “The temporary increase in universal credit was designed to help applicants get through the economic shock and financial turmoil of the most difficult stages of the pandemic, and it has.”