“If this is the first stage of Boris Johnson’s “levelling up” agenda, life will continue to get harder across the board while the Tories’ billionaire mates line their pockets through corporate cronyism and dodgy deals.”
By Patrick Foley, Hornsey & Wood Green CLP
This week, the £20-a-week uptick in Universal Credit (UC) was brought to end by the government, instantly making life tougher for millions facing an already difficult situation. Coupled with steep gas and energy price rises as we move into winter, the Tories have cooked up a storm for working people that must be challenged by our movement.
An hour after the cut came into effect, Department of Work and Pensions Secretary Teresa Coffee was singing Karaoke to the tune of “having the time of my life.” The contrast between struggling families and dancing Tory MPs could not be starker, and it highlights how little care or thought goes into those who rely on this support to get by, or the suffering that will follow after it’s reduced.
On numerous occasions, Tory MPs (including Teresa Coffee herself) have shown that they don’t even understand how UC works, falsely claiming that the cut will force people to find work, despite it being an in-work benefit. Almost 40% of the 5.8 million people on UC are already employed so frankly the spin of “getting people back to work” is insulting to the millions already on poverty wages.
This cut is the biggest single reduction of the basic rate of social security since the Welfare State was founded, and analysis from the Legatum Institute has shown that the £20-a-week protected 840,000 people from poverty – including 290,000 children.
The Government has been forced to delay this cut before, and with enough pressure we can force them to reverse this callous cut completely.
This week both former footballer Gary Neville and current young star Marcus Rashford publicly criticised the decision. Gary Neville clashed with Edwina Curry on Good Morning Britain labelling the cut “brutal” and defending those currently claiming from the go-to Tory attack that they are lazy.
Rashford, who forced the Government to reverse their decision to cancel free school meals last summer, was again willing to hold Johnson’s administration to account – “Instead of removing vital support, we should be focusing on developing a long-term roadmap out of this child hunger pandemic.”
Across the Labour movement, voices have been calling for the cut to cancelled with MPs including Jeremy Corbyn, Apsana Begum, Rebecca Long Bailey, John McDonnell, Richard Burgon and others signing a 50,000 strong petition started by the Labour Assembly Against Austerity.
The TUC and major unions have also campaigned against cutting the “lifeline” to millions across the country.
While Keir Starmer has stated that the cut comes “at the worst possible time because prices are going up,” it’s a shame that the front bench have not yet piled the party’s resources in a concrete way by backing the charity, community, disabled, trade union and other groups leading opposition and protests to the cut around the country.
If this is the first stage of Boris Johnson’s “levelling up” agenda, life will continue to get harder across the board while the Tories’ billionaire mates line their pockets through corporate cronyism and dodgy deals. This is a fight the entire Labour movements needs to come around to force change.
- Add your support to the #CancelTheCut petition here.