Universal Credit update: MPs call on Boris Johnson to stop benefit cut and keep £20 uplift

DWP member explains how they informed Universal Credit claimants

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Universal Credit is a benefit payment awarded to claimants who are unemployed or on low income by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Last year, Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak introduced the increase to Universal Credit as part of a wider support package for Britons struggling during the onset of the pandemic. However, during his Budget announcement earlier this year, Mr Sunk confirmed the £20 uplift to benefit payments would come to an end by October 2021.

The move has drawn criticism from poverty charities, unions, opposition parties, and from Mr Johnson’s own political party.

According to reports, senior Tory MPs are preparing to table an amendment in the House of Commons on Monday in a last bid to stop the pending cut.

Iain Duncan Smith MP, the architect of the Universal Credit scheme, and Damian Green MP are set to introduce an amendment to the yearly uprating of pensions.

This would seek to halt any pension increase unless funds are diverted to the DWP to stop the benefit reduction.

While the Government is not obliged to act if this amendment is passed, both Conservative politicians hope it will push Mr Johnson to take more substantial action in addressing the Universal Credit crisis.

Mr Smith and Mr Green will need 40 other Tory MPs to join them against the Prime Minister’s plans to cut Universal Credit.

Earlier this week, Keir Starmer MP’s Labour staged a Commons vote on keeping the benefit uplift.

Despite the motion passing, this vote was non-binding and politicians across the aisle were told by the Prime Minister to abstain from taking part.

Dan Paskins, Director of UK Impact at Save the Children, outlined the importance of politicians inside and outside of Mr Johnson’s party voicing their opposition to the changes to Universal Credit.

Mr Paskins said: “Senior Conservative MPs, including the architect of Universal Credit Iain Duncan Smith are right to voice serious concerns and give the UK Government the opportunity to rethink this decision in a Commons vote on Monday.

“A decision to keep this increase in place could prevent an additional 200,000 children from being pulled into poverty.

“There’s still time for the UK Government to do the right thing and Keep the Lifeline.”

Internal Government analysis of the Universal Credit cut revealed that the consequences would be “catastrophic” for the country if it were to go through.

It is believed that the UK will see an unprecedented rise in homelessness, food bank use, and poverty as a result of the cut.

According to figures released by the DWP in February, there have been 4.3million claims for Universal Credit since March 13, 2020.

Between this time and May 14, 2020, there were 2.4million people who came forward asking for the benefit payment, which was when the pandemic started to affect household finances.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a leading social change think tank, believes the proposed reduction in Universal Credit payments would be the largest “overnight cut” to benefits since the Second World War.

Earlier this week, Helen Barnard, Deputy Director of the foundation, explained how politicians within Westminster are increasingly unsure whether the Universal Credit cut is the right course of action.

Ms Barnard said: “There is widespread concern amongst MPs about the devastating impact this will have on huge numbers of their constituents and new ministers are certain to face intense pressure from families anxious about how they will make ends meet from next month.

“The £20-a-week increase to Universal Credit is vital to protect families from poverty and provide the stability they need to improve their prospects.

“As energy bills go up, prices on the shelves rise and National Insurance is set to increase, the Prime Minister must urgently keep this support in place, or his premiership risks being defined by plunging people into poverty rather than levelling up.”

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