The Government has confirmed plans for a significant £85 a month cut to Universal Credit, which will impact thousands of families in Harrow.
In a move that has been criticised by charities and politicians from all political parties, the Prime Minister declared in a Liaison Committee Hearing yesterday that the Universal Credit cut is “under review”. Indicating “a pretty clear steer of what my instincts are” he said “the answer is to get people into work”. This is despite 37% of Universal Credit claimants already having a job.
From September, the cut is expected to hit over 18,000 families in Harrow, with a cut equivalent to the cost of the average family’s annual electricity, gas and internet bills combined.
Child Poverty Action Group has stated the £20 uplift is essential to ensure “low-income families with children receive the support they need”. While the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned that the cut could see another 200,000 children pushed into poverty.
After formally writing to the Secretary of State, Labour MP for Harrow West Gareth Thomas said:
“It is simply shameful that the Government want to take £1000 from over 18,000 families in Harrow in a matter of months.
With only six weeks for the Government to see sense time and stop their £20 per week cut to millions of families incomes, the arguments to #CanceltheCut to Universal Credit continue to mount – I have written to the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions to outline urgently why they must not go ahead with this cut:
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently warned this is the biggest overnight cut to social security since WW2 and, as part of a coalition of more than 60 organisations, charities and religious groups, warned this cut will affect over 3.5 million children, with 200,000 children at risk of being swept into poverty.
In Harrow West, there are already 8,099 children living in poverty, making up 33% of all children in my constituency, while in neighbouring Harrow East there are 9,533 children living in poverty, and 4,409 children living in poverty in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner.
The Prime Minister and members of the Government talk about “levelling up” but they should be clear that there is no vision for doing this with millions of children living in poverty. The £20 per week cut will place even more of the burden on organisations like the excellent London’s Community Kitchen operating in my constituency. Taz Khan, the founder and project lead of London’s Community Kitchen recently reached the milestone of serving 500,000 meals to people in need across Harrow and Brent. The Community Kitchen is thriving but Taz himself recently told Sky News that he would prefer not to be in this position. Ending child poverty should not be up to members of our community like Taz.
Save the Children has found that almost half of Universal Credit claimants don’t think they can live on £20 less each week; 61% of claimants state they will struggle to afford food, 48% worry they won’t be able to cover essential bills, and 37% will struggle to pay for children’s books and toys.
The Government want the lowest earning families to shoulder the burden of Government mishandling of our economy, taking this money away will only dampen the recovery. Fundamentally, this cut is morally and economically wrong and I welcome detailed responses to the questions I have raised.”
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said:
“The Government’s plans to cut Universal Credit will hit the lowest paid hardest and hurt our economic recovery.
“Six million families are set to lose £1000 a year while out of work support will be left at its lowest level in decades.