Portsmouth MP's plea to scrap government's 'shameful' £20 cut to Universal Credit

‘SHAMEFUL’ planned benefits cuts will leaves thousands of Portsmouth families struggling to put food on the table, a city MP has warned.

By Tom Cotterill
Thursday, 9th September 2021, 1:37 pm
Undated file photo of the sign outside the Department of Works and Pensions in central London.
Undated file photo of the sign outside the Department of Works and Pensions in central London.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has demanded the government to axe a planned £20 cut to Universal Credit, set to come into effect next month.

Voicing his fears in a letter to work and pension secretary, Dr Therese Coffey, the worried Labour MP said the change would see £1,000 snatched from some of the city’s poorest families.

Mr Morgan said that in his constituency alone, 5,550 families will be affected, including 6,907 children.

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Writing to the work and pension secretary, Mr Morgan said: 'The government’s decision to increase the standard allowance of universal credit by £20 per week during the height of the pandemic was a lifeline to families, but the decision to remove it at the end of this month will be a devastating blow to many in my constituency and others further afield.

‘According to the Trussell Trust, your planned cut of over £1,000 a year to millions of families is the biggest overnight cut to the social security system since World War II.’

Mr Morgan’s plea came after MPs backed Boris Johnson’s £12bn tax hike to increase national insurance contributions in a bid to pay for more health and social care services.

A cut to universal credit had originally been planned in April by the government, Mr Morgan said. However, this was postponed following a vote in parliament.

The changes to universal credit are due to come into effect on October 6, in a move that has worried chiefs at the Citizens Advice.

Morgan Wild, head of policy at the organisation, pleaded for a rethink and said: ‘More than half a million people have come to Citizens Advice for support with universal credit since the pandemic. We know the extra £20 a week has often meant the difference between empty cupboards and food on the table.

‘The government should do the right thing and keep this vital lifeline. It’s the best way of making good on its ‘levelling up’ promise and supporting households to recover from this crisis.’

Mr Morgan added: ‘It is shameful that the very workers who got us through this crisis are now set to lose £1,000 from their income ever year.

‘The £20 that is due to be cut is currently enabling some local families to put food on the table at the end of the week. The government cannot pull the rug from under them during this precarious moment for families and the wider economy.’

A government spokesman said: ‘As announced by the chancellor at the Budget, the uplift to Universal Credit was always temporary. It was 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 vital support 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.’

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