Margaret Greenwood MP has written to Thérèse Coffey, the government’s Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, asking her to cancel the Conservatives’ planned cut of £20 a week to Universal Credit.
The cut will take effect from the end of this month and it will amount to a loss of more than £1,000 over the course of a year. It will also apply to people who receive Working Tax Credit and it will be the biggest overnight cut to the social security system since World War II.
The intervention by Margaret Greenwood, the MP for Wirral West, comes on the eve of a parliamentary debate and vote on the issue which have been called by Labour.
According to analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), an independent social change organisation working to solve UK poverty, over 30,000 families in Wirral will be affected by the cut.
At the start of the pandemic, the government increased the standard allowance of Universal Credit by £20 per week. Ministers had originally planned to cut this in April 2021, but changed course after campaigning by Labour and a number of charities.
The government deferred the cut for six months. Margaret Greenwood MP is arguing that the government should have committed to keeping the uplift in place permanently.
Dozens of charities have campaigned against the cut, warning that proceeding with it would push 500,000 more people into poverty.
The cut has also been opposed by prominent Conservatives, including Sir Iain Duncan Smith and five of his successors as DWP Secretary of State.
Margaret Greenwood MP, a former Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:
“The government’s planned cut to Universal Credit is morally wrong. It also makes no economic sense.
“In Wirral West, 3,890 households are in receipt of Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit.
“By making this cut, the government is taking more than £4 million out of people’s pockets in Wirral West over the next year. It will cause real hardship to thousands of people and have an adverse impact on the local economy as businesses try to recover from Covid. People will simply have less money to spend in local shops and on local services.
“The fact the government had to increase Universal Credit by £20 at the onset of the coronavirus crisis in the first place shows that the original level of support was inadequate and that the Conservatives’ social security system is not fit for purpose.
“According to analysis by the charity Action for Children, key workers who receive Universal Credit payments, such as care workers and supermarket staff, will be among the worst hit by this cut.
“It is shameful that the very workers who got us through this crisis are in the firing line for a cut to their income of more than £1,000 every year.
“Removing the £20 a week uplift will hit those on low income hard, damage our economic recovery from the pandemic and almost certainly drive up already record levels of poverty.
“The government must do the right thing and cancel the cut to Universal Credit.”
Please find below the full text of Margaret Greenwood's letter to Thérèse Coffey:
The Rt Hon Dr Thérèse Coffey MP
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Department for Work and Pensions
14 September 2021
Re: Cancel the cut to Universal
It is of profound concern that the government intends to go ahead
with its plan to cut Universal Credit by £20 per week – more than £1,000 a year
– at the end of this month.
This will affect around six million families, including more than
3,800 in Wirral West and represents the biggest overnight cut to social
security since World War II.
It will hit people on low income hard and damage the economy as we seek
to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
The fact the
government had to increase Universal Credit by £20 at the onset of the
coronavirus crisis in the first place shows that the original level of support
was inadequate and that the Conservatives’ social security system is not fit
As you will be aware, the government had initially planned to scrap
this uplift and cut Universal Credit from April 2021.
However, numerous charities and civil society organisations,
including Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Child Poverty Action Group and Action for
Children, campaigned hard for it to remain in place, as did the Labour Party
In January 2021, Labour won a vote in the House of Commons as we
called on the government to stop the cut in Universal Credit and Working Tax
Credit and give certainty to the millions of families who rely on it.
In March 2021, the government announced that the uplift would be
extended until the end of September. This merely deferred the cut for another
six months; the Chancellor at that point should have committed to keeping the
uplift in place permanently.
You will be aware that six former Work and Pensions Secretaries of
State have written to the Chancellor urging him to keep funding at the current
level. A large group of Conservative backbenchers have also now voiced their
The situation is clear: the government’s planned cut to Universal
Credit is both morally and economically wrong. It is opposed by Labour and by
members of your own party. I hope that those Conservative MPs who have voiced
their concerns will show the courage of their convictions and join Labour
tomorrow and vote against the cut.
I call on you to cancel the cut to Universal Credit once and for
all and to extend the uplift to those on legacy benefits.