Cross-party politicians have joined forces to call on the Government to rethink its decision to scrap the weekly £20 Universal Credit uplift.
Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources at Nottingham City Council, and Councillor Kevin Clarke, opposition Leader of the Nottingham Independents, have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
In a jointly-signed letter sent to Downing Street, they say the decision to provide an uplift payment during the early stages of the pandemic last year was welcome, but that the ‘lifeline’ must not be removed while people are still getting back on to their feet.
It goes on to say:
- Immediate action is needed to retain the uplift, while extending it to those in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support and Jobseekers Allowance
- People claiming legacy benefits are often the sick and disabled – the most at risk from the pandemic
- Falling incomes and rising costs over the past 18 months have put families under ‘immense pressure’ and the £20 uplift has proved a ‘lifeline’
- Taking it away will have knock-on effects for homelessness and mental health, the cost of which in social and financial terms will far outweigh the investment of maintaining the payment
- Around half a million people will be dragged into poverty nationally
- Families with children with be disproportionately impacted
- More than 40,000 Nottingham households – containing more than 80,000 adults and children – will lose out by up to £1,000 per year without the uplift
- Six-in-ten, single-parent families will see their income drop by £1,040 per year
Councillor Webster said: “The £20 weekly uplift in Universal Credit has been a lifeline for many Nottingham families during the pandemic, enabling them to keep their heads above water for heating, water, rent and food.
“There’s no question that by removing it, the Government will be placing people into serious hardship, particularly as we enter the winter months with energy bills also due to increase significantly.
“We have already seen an upsurge in the use of food banks during the pandemic so it is clear that many people are seriously struggling, including those in low-paid and unstable work, low incomes and people claiming benefit for the first time due to the impact of Covid – with 7,500 extra claimants in the city over the past year and more than 28,000 Nottingham households now on Universal Credit.
“This is an issue which affects many thousands of the poorest children across Nottingham and affects many low-paid working people who are struggling to make ends meet already. Taking away the £20 per week will undoubtedly mean that more families will have to make the choice between heating and eating – a choice nobody should have to make in 21st century Britain.
“It will also push more people into a spiral of serious poverty and debt, which is not only personally tragic, but is bad for the economic recovery we need. Government seriously needs to rethink its position and lock-in the uplift permanently.”