IslingtonTribune

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20,000 residents to be hit hard by Universal Credit cut

'The money is there, it’s just being shifted to the wrong places and the working classes are taking the blame'

10 September, 2021 — By Millie Cooke

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is removing the £20 uplift

MORE than 20,000 people in Islington will face the sting of a reduction to Universal Credit in a move that has been described as the “biggest overnight cut to social security since before the modern welfare state”.

The government plans to end a £20 weekly uplift introduced in recognition of how the pandemic had thrown up unprecedented challenges to low-income households at the end of the month.

In Islington, the number of people claiming Universal Credit has risen by 207 per cent since before the coronavirus crisis began, the latest figures show.

Across the country, more than a third of those who claim are already in employment but still need help to get by due to poor wages.

Andy Greene, project manager at Disability in Action Islington, said: “The overwhelming majority of kids who live in poverty are living in households who are in work. People are ­having to work more and more hours just to keep up with the rising cost of living.”

He added: “People are working harder thathey ever have and they’re struggling more. People who are barely surviving, who are already dependent on foodbanks, who have already seen their income hit, are going to have to do more with less in what is going to be a very cold, harsh winter. The will to support people in these truly desperate times is just not there.

“The money is there, it’s just being shifted to the wrong places and the working classes are taking the blame.”

In Islington alone, there were 22,816 households on Universal Credit as of May 2021. When the uplift comes to an end on September 30, Universal Credit claimants will lose £20 per week from their benefit payments, which adds up to £1,040 over the course of the year.

A spokesperson for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: “Even though the government has justified it by saying that it was always temporary, we saw the initial increase as an admission that the levels of social security weren’t enough to support families before. “Families will no longer have enough support to keep them afloat when they hit hard times. They won’t have enough stability to escape poverty.”

Finance chief Councillor Satnam Gill said: “Anybody who is on Universal Credit will suffer significantly. “We’re trying to do the best we can and we’ve funded additional council tax support for people on benefits… but that’s nothing compared to the loss they will make once the additional Universal Credit money goes away. I still hope that the government will listen and not pull the £20.”

Prime minister Boris Johnson said last week: “My strong preference is for people to see their wages rise through their efforts, rather than through taxation of other people put into their pay packets, rather than welfare. And that’s the approach we support.”

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