Leaders of the UK’s devolved nations call for last minute U-turn on Universal Credit cut
Leaders of the UK’s devolved nations have written to Boris Johnson urging him to reverse the decision to cut the £20 Universal Credit uplift.
The letter signed by Mark Drakeford, Nicola Sturgeon, Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill calls the move short sighted and without rationale, withdrawing crucial support at a time when people are facing an unprecedented squeeze on their household budgets.
The letter states: “Your Government is withdrawing this lifeline just as the country is facing a significant cost-of-living crisis. This winter millions of people are facing an untenable combination of increases to the cost of food and energy, rising inflation, the end of the furlough scheme, and an imminent hike to National Insurance contributions.”
As well as opposition from elected members from the four nations, they add: “The four Children’s Commissioners of each nation, numerous charities and faith groups have also expressed their grave concerns as have millions of people who face additional and unnecessary hardship because of this cut to Universal Credit against the backdrop of a winter of hardship.
“Research by the Resolution Foundation and the Trussell Trust has highlighted the significant and devastating impact the cliff-edge withdrawal of the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit will have on family incomes, with an associated rise in food insecurity.
“It makes no sense at all to knowingly pursue a policy that will result in this immense and needless rise in child poverty.
“Years of a freeze on benefits means Universal Credit has not kept pace with rising living costs. Further to this, rising inflation means that a basic rate of Universal Credit after this cut will hold less purchasing power than it did in March 2020.”
The UK Government confirmed in August that it would remove the £20 increase, introduced at the start of the Covid pandemic, in October, leaving struggling families £1,040 a year worse off.
It admits a risk assessment has not been carried out into the impact of scrapping the uplift and removing it is predicted to have severe repercussions for some of the poorest families in Wales.
Last month Wales TUC warned that an estimated 280,000 people will be made worse off. The TUC’s research also suggests that more than a third (37.1 per cent) of those hit in Wales will be working families – many of them key worker households.
Earlier this week Plaid Cymru MP Ben Lake warned that Wales was heading into a “perfect storm of catastrophes” with the cut coming at the same time as furlough ending and fuel and food costs rising, while Heledd Fychan MS said the the loss of £20 represented an unacceptable choice between food and heat.
Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt has condemned the planned cut to the Universal Credit uplift as “indefensible and frankly deplorable”.