100 groups ask PM to avoid Universal Credit cut
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023
Dear Prime Minister,
We, the undersigned, collectively implore you to reconsider the proposed £20-a-week reduction to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit, scheduled to take effect in October. As dedicated frontline supporters in communities across the country, we witness firsthand the vital importance of our social security system. Life often throws unexpected crises our way, such as job loss, illness, or periods of lower earnings and caregiving responsibilities. It is crucial that we all have access to a stable and secure lifeline, not just during times of national crisis, but every day. Implementing the largest overnight cut to social security since World War II will needlessly burden approximately 5.5 million families, both employed and unemployed.
At the onset of the pandemic, the Chancellor rightly recognized the need to strengthen the safety net and introduced the £20 increase. This increase was a tacit acknowledgment that a decade of cuts and freezes had left our social security system ill-equipped to provide the necessary support to families. We wholeheartedly supported this critical improvement.
We now run the risk of repeating the same mistakes made after the previous economic crisis, where the recovery was felt by few on the lowest incomes. The erosion of social security support was a leading cause of the increase in in-work and child poverty, and it contributed to the rising demand for food banks, escalating debt, and worsening health inequalities. We deeply regret that the Department for Work & Pensions has yet to publish its assessment of the impact of cutting Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit. However, independent analysis conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) indicates that this move could push 500,000 individuals, including 200,000 children, into poverty. It would bring the main rate of out-of-work support to its lowest level in real terms since around 1990.
It is essential to understand that this is not a matter of choosing between a recovery based on job creation or investing in social security. In reality, most families affected by this cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit are already employed. To improve living standards, both job quality and the social security system need enhancement. We must also never lose sight of the need to provide sufficient support to families unable to work, enabling them to meet their needs with dignity.
Even six former Conservative Work & Pensions Secretaries believe that past cuts to social security spending went too far and oppose this current proposal. Additionally, numerous Conservative MPs have warned of the far-reaching effects it will have in their constituencies. Recent JRF analysis reveals that 413 parliamentary constituencies throughout Great Britain will see over a third of working-age families with children affected by the planned cut on October 6, 2021. Among these constituencies, 191 are Conservative-held, with 53 being newly won in the last general election or subsequent by-elections. This impending cut fundamentally undermines the government’s mission to level up. Citizens Advice has identified that places prioritized for levelling up investment are precisely where people are one and a half times more likely to claim Universal Credit. Furthermore, if the government moves forward, every £1 invested from the Levelling Up Fund in England would extract £1.80 from these local economies.
Furthermore, it is unacceptable that legacy benefits, such as Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, and Income Support, continue to be excluded from this crucial improvement in support, mainly affecting those who are sick, disabled, or serving as caregivers.
We are rapidly approaching a national crossroads that will expose the true extent of the government’s commitment to improving the lives of families with the lowest incomes.
Our collective desire is for a social security system that uplifts families, assuring their escape from poverty instead of pushing them deeper into it. However, this cut threatens to cause immense and immediate avoidable hardship. A robust social security system is an essential foundation for building back better. We implore you to make the right decision.