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THE government has been urged to reverse “callous and shameful” plans to phase out the £20 “uplift” to universal credit in autumn that was announced today by ministers.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said today that those receiving the uplift, described as a lifeline by campaigners, will start to see an adjustment to their payments from October.
The government is going ahead with the cuts despite widespread opposition to ending the uplift, including from former work and pensions secretaries, among them Iain Duncan Smith, once dubbed the “architect of austerity.”
Addressing the work and pensions committee, Ms Coffey said: “Ahead of October we will start communicating with the current claimants … to make them aware that will be being phased out and they will start to see an adjustment in their payments.”
Following the announcement, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds warned the move will “hit the lowest paid hardest and hurt our economic recovery.”
He said: “There is near universal opposition to this cut, including from prominent Conservatives.
“It is time the government saw sense, backed struggling families and cancelled its cut to universal credit.”
His Scottish counterpart Ian Murray MP also urged the government to reverse the “shameful and callous cut” to the benefit.
Campaigners argue that the uplift — worth about £1,000 a year — is preventing thousands of families from falling into poverty.
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) co-founder Linda Burnip said: “Strangely, not just DPAC but six previous Tory DWP ministers [have called] for the £20 uplift to be retained as a way to boost the economy.
“Disabled people have faced huge increases in their outgoings during the pandemic and these have not gone away. The £20 uplift with an extension to legacy benefits must be retained.”
Benefits charity Turn2Us said the government must keep the uplift or risk facing a “tsunami of poverty, hunger and ultimately destitution.”
The charity’s director of impact and innovation Jo Kerr said: “Over the course of the last decade, we have seen our social security system cut, capped and frozen beyond repair. What is left is a threadbare security net.”
And the Resolution Foundation think tank’s chief executive Torsten Bell said the decision is “bad economics as well as bad politics.”
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