Universal Credit vote blocked as government scraps opposition day

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Jacob Rees-Mogg has told parliament that an opposition day debate, in which Labour had been planning to force a vote on a cut to Universal Credit, will not take place so that MPs can vote on the plan to raise National Insurance instead.

The leader of the House of Commons informed MPs of the change to the schedule following a statement by Boris Johnson this afternoon, in which the Prime Minister confirmed plans to break a 2019 Tory manifesto pledge with a 1.25% levy.

Johnson announced the policy as part of the funding arrangement for his long-awaited social care plan. He presented the proposal to the cabinet this morning before coming to parliament to outline his “sustainable” plan for the care sector.

Reacting to the change in scheduling, Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire said: “This morning, cabinet was bounced into the Prime Minister’s so-called social care plan and now the leader is trying to bounce parliament into accepting it in a vote tomorrow. This is no way to run a government. It’s no way to run a country.

“This Tory tax rise won’t come in until next spring, so why the rush? Does he know that he will never get it past his backbenchers, through parliament, otherwise? Is he making sure that his own MPs have as little time as possible to consult their constituents or hear from stakeholders and experts?”

Labour had been hoping to force a vote on the government’s £20-per-week cut to Universal Credit, which will take effect from October 6th. Ministers face opposition on the move from the opposition and campaigners as well as backbench Tories.

“The government have pulled Labour’s vote on the cut to Universal Credit that would have been tomorrow to vote on the NI increase instead. I will do all I can to ensure a vote still takes place. The biggest cut in the history of the welfare state must be debated in parliament,” Jonathan Reynolds said.

The government granted the benefit increase when faced with large numbers of people struggling in the first wave of the pandemic. It raised the standard rate for a single, over-25 claimant from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.

The uplift had been due to be scrapped in April this year, but following pressure from the opposition and Conservative MPs, and the extension of furlough, Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the increased payment until September.

Labour has repeatedly called on the government to back struggling families and cancel the planned cut but the Secretary of State confirmed earlier this summer that the uplift would not be extended beyond the autumn.

Ministers have suggested the withdrawal is part of a push to get people into work, despite government figures showing that almost 40% of people on the benefit are in employment. Universal Credit is claimed by over five million households.

Everything Labour.
Every weekday morning.

By clicking ‘subscribe’ you confirm you have read and agree to our privacy policy

More from LabourList