Universal Credit (UC) claims increased by 2.8million between March and November 2020, as a direct result of job losses and reduced working incomes. This has meant a 56% increase in claims in Newcastle East. Despite the increased need for a just and dignified state welfare, the Government have decided to cut UC payments for around 6.2 million families.
I believe the Government should be protecting incomes during the pandemic and am calling on the government to abandon plans to cut the £20 Universal Credit ‘uplift’. I strongly believe the uplift should be maintained and agree with the Trussell Trust that the UC advance should be made non-repayable. The basic rate of UC should be higher along with related benefits. Labour are also calling on the uplift to be extended to legacy benefits.
On 18 January, I facilitated our Opposition Day motion on this. It sought to hold the Government to account on their plans to cut UC. In the debate Labour reiterated our call for urgent social security measures including abolishing the two-child limit on tax credit and removal of the savings limit which is badly affecting many self-employed people. The Conservatives abstained on the vote. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has said that a decision will be made soon on whether there will be anything to compensate for the removal of the uplift. I will scrutinise any proposals carefully.