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Over half of Equity members will experience financial hardship if £20 UC uplift is cut, survey suggests

Parliamentary reporter @TrinderMatt

MORE than half of Equity members warn they will experience financial hardship if Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushes ahead with plans to cut universal credit next month.

The actors’ union has written to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey to demand that Tory ministers abandon plans to remove the temporary £20-a-week uplift to the benefit from October 6.

The move “will risk immense, immediate, and avoidable hardship for a workforce that continues to suffer so much as result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Equity stressed. 

Most of the 780 respondents to the union’s latest survey reported being on universal credit, with 53 per cent saying they would struggle to make ends meet without the uplift, which equates to more than £1,000 a year.

Forty one per cent would not be able to meet housing and other essential costs, the research showed, while 32 per cent would likely fall into debt or increase their exisiting debt burden.  

Equity’s Alan Lean stressed that the cut “will plunge thousands of members into poverty or force them to leave the profession,” with working-class people already being hit the hardest, the union pointed out. 

After the government ignored the passing of a non-binding Labour motion condemning the cut last week, two Tory rebels were set to try and force a last-ditch vote to put pressure on ministers to change course last night.

The move, spearheaded by former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith and ex-Cabinet Office minister Damian Green, was dependent upon Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle selecting the vote for debate after the Morning Star went to press.

Defeat for Mr Johnson would be a humiliating setback, but the vote would again be non-binding. 

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