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MORE than 30,000 people are urging the government not to remove the £20-a-week universal credit (UC) increase in next month’s Budget.
The benefits increase — amounting to £1,040 a year — was introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last April to help millions of low-income households.
The government has not committed to retaining the benefits increase, despite growing levels of in-work poverty.
If the uplift is scrapped, 420,000 more children would be living in relative poverty after housing costs are calculated, according to research of the House of Commons Library.
A Labour Assembly Against Austerity (LAAA) petition is demanding that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Mr Sunak keep the benefits boost.
The petition, which has secured over 30,000 signatures, states: “The government must not go ahead with plans for universal credit to be cut back by £20 in April” in the March 3 Budget.
LAAA are also urging Labour to ramp up its campaigning in favour of maintaining the benefits uplift as six million families will remain uncertain about their jobs and finances when the third coronavirus lockdown comes to an end.
A spokesperson for the campaign group said: “Labour won a vote in Parliament to maintain the increased payment, but needs to step up its campaigning to secure this U-turn from the government.
“We urge [Sir] Keir Starmer to focus his fire on fighting the Tories and standing up for those who need Labour’s help.”
In a speech today, Labour leader Sir Keir insisted that a Labour budget would not cut the £20 uplift.
Hayes and Harlington Labour MP John McDonnell said that activists need to continue to “build the pressure on Sunak to back off” his plans to cut the benefits increase.
He said: “Living on universal credit is tough enough. The brutality of forcing people into even deeper poverty by cutting UC is provoking a fierce backlash.”
Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs secretary Richard Burgon said that the “disgraceful” plans to cut UC would be a “kick in the teeth from the Tories.”
He added: “As a movement, we must do all we can to defend working-class living standards.”
Streatham Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy said that cuts to benefits should be opposed “in the strongest terms.”
The LAAA petition can be found here: http://mstar.link/UCpetition
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