Lots of constituents have contacted me about the Government’s decision to cut the £20 increase in Universal Credit.

A lot of my constituents have to rely on Universal Credit for support. There are thousands of people living in the Leeds Central constituency who are on UC – the number has almost doubled since the start of the epidemic – and in these very difficult times they need all the help and support possible.

We campaigned hard originally to get the Government to increase this support by £20 a week – which eventually happened – and we have pressed just as hard for it to be kept. As one person said to me recently, ‘it may not seem like a lot but it’s absolutely vital to me and my family’. Unfortunately, despite our efforts and the widespread calls on the Government to think again, ministers are determined to go ahead with the cut. When he was asked about this, the Prime Minister said “the answer is to get people into work”; it was as if he had no idea that 37% of UC claimants already have a job. The basic problem, however, is that for many people their wages are simply too low. This cut will cost six million families an estimated £1,000 a year and support for those out of work will be left at its lowest level in decades.

We held a debate in the House of Commons on 15th Sept in a further attempt to persuade ministers to change their minds. I spoke in the debate and you can see my speech here: https://www.hilarybennmp.com/newsfromhilary/2021/09/16/watch-hilarys-speech-on-the-cut-to-universal-credit/

More broadly, we need a new social security safety net which has dignity and respect at its heart. I want to see an end to the five-week wait for a first UC payment and for UC advances to be converted into grants instead of loans. In addition, I believe the UC savings limit, the benefit cap and the two-child limit for UC and Tax Credits should be abolished, with the uprating all six legacy benefits by £20 a week in line with UC.

Hilary Benn
MP for Leeds Central

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