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Johnson condemned for ignoring warnings against the £20-a-week cut to universal credit

BORIS JOHNSON has been condemned for ignoring warnings from experts and professionals after he invoked the spirit of Margaret Thatcher today to defend the £20-a-week cut to universal credit.

Asked about the impact of the cut in an interview with ITV News at the Conservative conference, Mr Johnson said: “In a famous phrase, there is no alternative. There is no alternative.

“The UK has got to, and we can do much, much better by becoming a higher-wage, higher-productivity economy.”

Unions and campaigners have condemned the cut to the universal credit “uplift,” which comes into force on Wednesday.

National Education Union (NEU) joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “The government has ignored the warnings of teachers, charities, doctors, economists and many Conservative MPs.

“The cut to universal credit contradicts the government’s promise to ‘level up.’ The help that is now offered to families has been cut down to completely inadequate levels.”

Analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows the cut could plunge 500,000 people into poverty, including 200,000 children.

Dr Bousted, who addressed a fringe meeting at the conference today, warned: “Poverty creates concrete barriers to learning, and we can’t rely on school improvement as the only strategy to address poverty.”

The universal credit cut has dominated the PM’s set-piece interviews during the conference. On Monday Mr Johnson was challenged by STV reporter Kathryn Samson, who brandished a £20 note at him and asked: “If I gave you this £20 note this evening, what would you spend it on?” 

“What would that mean to you, though? A cocktail at conference? A taxi?

“For some Scottish families, there are charities that would say this £20-a-week note is the difference between being able to heating their homes [or not].”

Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg was challenged on Monday by a protester on the cruelty of the benefits system. Dominic Hutchins told the posh MP that he had been asked to prove he had cerebral palsy to claim benefits after Tory cuts to youth services resulted in him losing his job.

"You’re an Eton millionaire who doesn’t care about disabled people,” Mr Hutchins was heard telling Mr Rees-Mogg.

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