Universal Credit cut will plunge families into poverty in the UK

Halima Abdi, is a member of the YCL’s London branch

One hundred groups have implored the Prime Minister to abandon the looming cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit, calling it “the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since World War II”.

With the height of the coronavirus pandemic now over, the government has explained how they will start phasing out the £20 uplift to Universal Credit from the end of September, based on individual claimants’ payment dates.
The move is opposed by six former Work and Pensions secretaries, charities, teachers and MPs across the political spectrum.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Dr Therese Coffey, resisted calls this week to maintain the uplift, saying the time was right to focus on supporting people getting back into work and helping workers to progress in their careers. However, the coalition say most people who will be affected are already in work.

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) shows it risks plunging 500,000 people into poverty, including 200,000 children and with at least a third of working class families affected.

In a open letter, a government spokesperson 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.

Young workers, particularly those under the age of twenty-five, have been the worst hit by job losses and also get lowest standard allowance for Universal Credit.

As furlough ends and more people end up out of work or in lower-paid work, we need as much financial support as we can get. Trade unions must have a leading role in the fight to keep the uplift and end poverty pay.

Halima Abdi