OPINION: Now is not the time to cut benefits lifeline for most vulnerable

General view of the Job Centre Plus on Benalder St in Glasgow, as figures released today show that u

A "jobs led recovery" is possible without taking away the lifeline £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit claimants, writes Sarah Burgess - Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

A couple of weeks ago, all but one of Norfolk’s MPs voted along with 333 others to slash £4bn worth of foreign aid until Britain’s own economic recovery was in hand.

I disagree with this narrow-minded logic.

Levelling-up poorer parts of the world is the very thing needed to prevent future pandemics, and £4bn feels like good value when compared to the £2.1bn wasted on unusable PPE.

Perhaps if our MPs were making sure that saving went instead to supporting vulnerable people at home, they could look themselves in the mirror.

The trouble is, they aren’t even doing that.


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By October, the government plans to phase out the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit payments claimants have received since April 2020.

It may seem tiny to us, but for the people receiving Universal Credit, that extra cash is a lifeline.

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The DWP has admitted that, when devising the policy, it did not assess the cut’s effects on claimants themselves.

Nor did it look at the wider impacts it would have on regional and ethnic inequality or levels of in-work and child poverty.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the move will plunge half a million people into poverty by taking away £1k of their yearly income overnight, with around 200,000 children as collateral.

Many of these families live in the East of England and need the support of their MPs now more than ever.

Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis in March last year the number of people claiming Universal Credit nationally has doubled from three to six million.

For those without jobs, their so-called “economic recovery” is dependent on them having a roof over their heads and food on their table.

If they have principles, now is the time for Norfolk’s MPs to make them clear.


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