Grant Shapps calls on Labour to back Universal Credit cuts

Welwyn Hatfield Conservative MP Grant Shapps. Picture: Supplied by Grant Shapps' office,

Grant Shapps has responded to Welwyn Hatfield Labour's call to oppose the £20 universal credit cut. - Credit: Archant

MP Grant Shapps has called on the Welwyn Hatfield Labour Party to support the government’s plans to cut Universal Credit next month after they asked him to oppose the decision. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a temporary £20 increase to Universal Credit payments was introduced, but this will come to an end on October 6. 

Welwyn Hatfield Labour are among a number of groups to speak out against the plans, urging MP Grant Shapps to oppose the plans which would impact 5.5 million households in the UK. 

“The Conservative government has made clear their intention to cut Universal Credit by £20 per week on October 6,” said a statement. 

“If it goes ahead, this decision will mean that people who already struggle to afford everyday essentials in our community will stand to lose £1,040 from their income every year. 

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“Universal credit is a benefit paid to people both in work and out of work. The government’s own data shows that as of December 2020, 39 per cent of people in receipt of Universal Credit were in work and working families make up the majority of families who will be affected by this cut. 

“The payment is a lifeline to people in employment but on low incomes, those looking for work and people who cannot work due to illness or disability. Nationally, this decision is set to pull 500,000 people below the poverty line, including 200,000 children. 

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“New data from the Joseph Rowntree foundation found that there are 4,420 families in the Welwyn Hatfield constituency in receipt of Universal Credit, which is 31 per cent of all families living in the borough. 

“By supporting the government on this decision, our Conservative MP Grant Shapps will be condemning nearly one in three families in Welwyn and Hatfield who are already on low incomes to live on £1,040 less per year. 

“Welwyn Hatfield Labour Party calls on Grant Shapps to use his influence in the Cabinet to oppose this cut and to resign from the government if he fails to persuade the Prime Minister & Chancellor to reverse their decision.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus.

Boris Johnson's decision to cut universal credit would impact 5.5 million households in the UK. - Credit: PA

In response, Grant Shapps has called for Labour to support the government’s decision to cut universal credit and their plans for the country’s post-pandemic recovery. 

“It’s been an incredibly turbulent 18 months since the start of this pandemic, which has caused significant disruption to the economy and to peoples’ working lives,” he said.  

“During this time, the government acted to support those people and businesses affected with over £352 billion of combined support - our largest period of expenditure since the Second World War.  

“This includes support like the furlough scheme, mortgage holidays, support for renters and the temporary £20 uplift to universal credit. All of these things have been crucial to keeping people safe and secure as we have been dealing with, and recovering from, the pandemic. 

“Now, as we aim to return cautiously to a sense of normality and our recovery gathers pace, our focus has to switch to delivering jobs, getting people back into work and improving their prospects- across Welwyn Hatfield and the whole of the UK. 

“Already we have secured 263,000 roles for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit, with 50,000 young people who have already started, thanks to our £2 billion Kickstart scheme. Likewise, we are committing to helping over one million jobseekers find jobs and get back to work via our £2.9 billion Restart scheme. 

“I would urge the Labour Party to support the government as we deliver on this recovery, and the Plan for Jobs set out by the Chancellor, so that we can provide people with good quality employment in the months and years ahead and get our economy back on track.” 

A Government spokesman added: “As announced by the Chancellor at the Budget, the uplift to Universal Credit was always temporary. 

“It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so. 

“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work, and it’s right that the government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”

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