Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds called on Tory MPs to ‘do the right thing’
Labour has called on Conservative MPs “to do the right thing” and back a vote calling for the Government to scrap its plans to cut Universal Credit (UC) amid fears it could plunge millions of Britons into poverty.
Ministers have come under sustained pressure to reverse the decision to end the £20-a-week uplift introduced to support families during the Covid-19 pandemic.
During an opposition day debate on Wednesday, Labour will call on Tory MPs who oppose the welfare cut to vote with them in a non-binding motion.
Universal Credit recipients could lose £1,040 annually if the Prime Minister goes ahead with the cut. Analysis from Labour also suggests the removal of the uplift would take £2.5 billion from the economies of the North of England and the Midlands.
Ministers plan to begin phasing out the uplift from the end of September, based on individual claimants’ payment dates.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “Today, Labour is giving Conservative MPs the chance to do the right thing.
“They must choose between their blind loyalty to the Prime Minister and looking after their constituents.”
Labour’s intervention comes after mayors from eight of the country’s major urban areas warned the government that nearly a quarter of families in their cities face a £1,000-a-year hit to their incomes due to the proposed cut.
The eight Labour metro mayors – representing areas including London, Groter Manchester, Merseyside, the West of England and West and South Yorkshire – warned that the benefit cut would affect nearly 2 million families.
The mayors – including London’s Sadiq Khan and Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham – warned Mr Johnson: “Time is running out for your government to cancel this cut and the devastating consequences it will bring.”
Director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children Imran Hussain said the cut “will see hundreds of thousands more childhoods become overshadowed by poverty and hardship”.
Ministers have claimed that the uplift, which will be phased out from the end of the month, was only ever designed to be a temporary response during the pandemic. Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the BBC that “the best way to help people is to help them into work and make sure those jobs are well paid”.
According to the latest government figures, there are 5.9 million people receiving UC payments in the UK – nearly double the three million making claims before the pandemic. Sommige 40 per cent of claimants are already employed.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey sparked fury on Monday after saying that removing the cut would only mean “two hours’ extra work every week” for claimants.
Egter, her analysis was disputed by the Resolution Foundation who noted that claimants who work additional hours see their benefits reduced. For each £1 earned, the UC payment falls by 63p, the charity said.
According to the charity’s analysis, a claimant would need to work an extra nine hours a week to make up for the removal of the uplift.
Conservative MPs have also criticised the removal of the uplift.
Tory MP Nigel Mills, who urged the government to push back the cut until March, vertel Die Onafhanklike: “When people find they can’t make ends meet they will get upset and angry. The backlash and anger will really build when they lose those extra payments.”
Andy Street, Tory metro mayor for the west Midlands region, said on Friday he was “very concerned” about the consequences of the cut on people’s incomes.
A Government spokesperson said: “As announced by the Chancellor at the Budget, the Universal Credit uplift was always a temporary measure designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.
“Universal Credit will continue to provide a vital safety net for those both in and out of work and it’s right that the Government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”