Labour criticise Universal Credit cut as millions face struggle to pay bills

The party says working families are facing a ‘perfect storm created by this government’

The Labour party would maintain the £20 uplift to Universal Credit and replace the system entirely, the shadow work and pensions secretary will announce at party conference today.

The planned cut to Universal Credit is due to come into effect in early October with charities warning that the move will push many people “over a financial cliff edge”.

At a glance: 5 key facts

  • Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary will criticise the government’s plan to cut the Universal Credit uplift in a speech at the party conference today
  • Jonathan Reynolds will say that “working people in Britain are facing a perfect storm” with the cut to Universal Credit, rising energy bills and next April’s national insurance increase
  • He will refer to Labour party analysis which has indicated that the average working family will be more than £1,700 worse off by next April
  • Polling carried out on behalf of national poverty charity Turn2Us found that more than half of all those on Universal Credit, 3 million people, will be unable to pay their bills once the uplift is removed
  • Around 15% fear they are at risk of losing their homes in the next six months due to the cut, while around four in ten will struggle to afford food in the coming months, according to the charity

What’s been said?

Anna Stevenson, Welfare Benefit Specialist at Turn2us, comments: “At the start of October, Universal Credit will be cut by £20 at the same time as other support schemes like furlough come to an end and energy prices rise. Ultimately this will push many people who are struggling to cover basic needs like food, rent and utility bills, over a financial cliff edge.

“We know from our own data and insight, as well as our day-to-day work with people struggling to stay afloat, that this is a real cliff edge moment for thousands of people across the country.

“We urge anyone struggling with money to find out what other financial support they may be eligible for in the form of a grant - they can do this via our Grants Search tool on our website - as well as checking that their benefit entitlement is correct or whether they are eligible to receive help with bills such as council tax, water, or broadband.”

Ahead of his speech at Labour conference, Mr Reynolds said: “Working people in Britain are facing a perfect storm created by this Government which will see the average family nearly £2,000 a year worse off.

“Labour is on the side of working families, while the Conservatives are making their lives harder.

“It is not too late for the Government to change course, cancel their cut to Universal Credit and back struggling families this winter. Labour would maintain the uplift and replace Universal Credit.”

Conservative Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden, said: “Successive Labour leaders have threatened businesses with tax hikes, higher bills, and more red tape,” he said.

“Only the Conservatives can be trusted to support our businesses and help our economy thrive as we build back better”.