Why the £20 uplift must stay

September 30 2021
Why the £20 uplift must stay

Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy writes for the Voice

THE government is determined to press ahead with its plans to cut the £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits this October.

A number of constituents in Fishponds have been in contact following this news, worried as to how they will heat their homes and put food on the table.

While it is easy to think this will only affect a small number of people, statistics reveal that 3,580 people in Bristol East claimed Universal Credit this August.

In real terms, the uplift cut will slash the finances of 1 in 19 working-age constituents by £80 each month.

It is also set to coincide with the government’s hikes to National Insurance, which will hit the young and lower-paid the hardest. And it will take effect during a winter where energy bills are set for staggering rises.

I have been doing all I can to try to persuade the government to maintain the uplift – and extend it to those on legacy benefits too – both in Parliament and in my correspondence with government ministers.

 I wrote to the Work and Pensions Secretary in July, urging her to persuade the government to reconsider these plans. I received a response from a junior minister, who admitted that Universal Credit has ‘provided a vital safety net’ for six million people. Yet the government now intends to cut holes in this ‘safety net,’ forcing more and more people to fall through the gaps, during a continuing global pandemic.

My Labour colleagues and I were proud to oppose the cuts at Questions to the Secretary for Work and Pensions this month, and by voting to maintain the uplift at the recent Opposition Day debate in the Commons. Labour won the vote by 253-0 as the Tories ordered their MPs to abstain, but the vote was non-binding, so the fight continues.

In sharing her childhood experiences of growing up in poverty, shadow Chief Secretary Bridget Phillipson, who replied to the debate on Labour’s behalf, reminded us that this discussion, "is about the worried families…starting to think about the same horrible, painful decisions" that her family had to make when she was a child.

If you worry that you might have to choose between ‘heating and eating’ this winter as a result of the £20 cut, please do get in touch.

It will be difficult for many people, after what has already been an incredibly tough year and a half, but I don’t want anyone to despair or feel that they don’t have any support. 

There are organisations out there that can help and, as your MP, I will do all I can to help, too.

You can email me at kerry.mccarthy.mp@parliament.uk or call 0117 939 9901.