On the final night of Tory Party conference, as the government wines and dines with its billionaire donors, millions of families will be facing the biggest overnight cut to social security since the Second World War.
On October 6th, the government will ram through its plan to scrap the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, leaving six million households over £1,000 a year worse off. By next April, two and a half million will be £1,300 worse off because their National Insurance contributions will also rise by 10%.
The uplift in Universal Credit provided a lifeline to those struggling in the pandemic, which this callous government has decided now to reverse. Labour had intended to use one of its rationed ‘opposition days’ last week to force a vote against this cut and urge the government to see sense and act with compassion. Conveniently, the government scrapped this debate to allow them to rush through their tax hike for social care.
This half-baked so-called ‘plan’ will raise money that the social care sector is unlikely to see. The small print reveals that they intend to keep increasing council tax to meet social care costs, whilst leaving a failing sector unreformed and care workers coping with a tax rise and no support. It will not help a single person who needs help today.
Combined with this tax hike, the upcoming cut to Universal Credit will leave the six million households in its receipt £1,300 a year worse off. In Wallasey alone, this means 10,120 households will together lose £10,524,800 in support.
According to research by the Joseph Roundtree Foundation, these cuts threaten to push 700,000 people into poverty, and 500,000 further into ‘deep poverty’, which is defined as being over 50% below the poverty line. This includes 300,000 children.
Under the Tories, the same workers who saw us through the pandemic are having support snatched from them – and also facing increased tax costs. The Prime Minister has said that he wants to focus on ‘work not benefits’, yet he knows full well that 40% of Universal Credit recipients are already in work.
In Wallasey, 36% of people claiming Universal Credit are in employment, and nationally one in six working households already cannot make ends. The reality is that for the 6,000 children reliant on Universal Credit in our area, this looming cut may be the difference between food on the table or not in coming months.
It has never been clearer that this is a government with only its own interests at heart, and that only a Labour government will end the roll-out of Universal Credit. It is cowardly that the government has again deprived parliament of the opportunity to challenge its callous decisions and call for the urgent reforms we need to make a social security system that once more supports the most vulnerable and offers a safety net we can all be proud of.