“It will force many into hardship and poverty”
County Cllr Julie Gibson, the Labour Group Shadow Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration has joined calls for the Government to scrap its planned changes to Universal Credit due to come into force in April 2021. In a motion to be moved at Lancashire County Council’s Full Council meeting Cllr Gibson will urge the Council to write to the Secretary of State to ask her to keep the £20 uplift to the benefit introduced at the start of the pandemic.
Cllr Gibson said: “I urge the Government to listen to the the concerns of welfare organisations, charities, local councillors and other partners, to keep the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit. Given that the £20 per week was introduced to help people through the pandemic it is astonishing that the Government now justifies its removal, when all forecasts show a likely increase in unemployment as a result of the economic fall-out from the pandemic.”
She continued: “Figures from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation* show that 6.2 million families across the UK will feel a £1,040 hit to their yearly incomes almost overnight and 500,000 people – amongst whom 200,000 are children – are at real risk of falling into poverty and deprivation.
She added: “Across Lancashire we are still seeing small increases in the rate of unemployment which currently stands at 43,500 claimants – 5.9% (most recent data available December 2020 – www.nomisweb.gov.uk) and with the economic uncertainty over the fall-out of COVID we sadly expect that this figure will increase in the coming months. Many of these people will move on to claiming Universal Credit at a time when it is being cut by the Government.”
Cllr Gibson said: “Having faced the uncertainties over COVID, Lancashire residents now face uncertainty over unemployment and potential greater hardship. I would urge the Council to support the motion to write to the Secretary of State, to listen to our concerns and to keep the £20 uplift which will be a vital lifeline to many.”
* “Keep the Lifeline Campaign” www.jrf.org.uk