My campaign to cancel September’s planned cuts to universal credit continues. Imagine if Denmark cut the income of its entire population by a grand a year? That’s exactly what Johnson and Sunak are about to do – take £20 a week off 6 million households supported by Universal Credit, nearly 40% of them in work. This is bad politics and bad economics. These are vulnerable families trying hard to get by, and it will only mean less cash flow into our town centres, just as we need the economy to bounce back – it is both cruel and stupid.
I wrote to Secretary of State Therese Coffey appealing directly to her to change her mind. I reminded her that there is near-universal opposition to these plans. Labour, the public, the House of Commons, dozens of charities and campaign groups and now, six of her predecessors as Conservative Work and Pensions Secretaries of State all agree that this money must remain in place.
I also spoke to BBC News about why this in work benefit – and yes it is an work benefit, Boris Johnson – should definitely not be slashed in the very same month that furlough ends, and to Sky News to explain that yes, I would proudly keep the uplift long-term, Universal Credit is already a very low paying benefit by international standards. I also explained to LabourList why scrapping the cut – and keeping the Pensions Triple Lock as per the Conservative’s manifesto pledge – are moral and economic imperatives.
Yesterday, presumably hoping the country was distracted by England’s victory, the Department for Work and Pensions snuck out two further changes.
The first is good news. The UK’s social security system is not supporting people with terminal illnesses. For conditions like Motor Neurone Disease, and many more, the “six month rule” is not fit for purpose, as I explain in this video. As you can see from this, the government has finally relented and the period will now be a more flexible 12 months. This is great progress for those with terminal but unpredictable conditions and one less thing to worry about at the end of life.
The second under the radar change is sadly worse news. The Minimum Income Floor, essentially a benefit cap for the self-employed, is being brought back. Combined with the Universal credit cut this is a double whammy for self-employed people whose incomes may have already been decimated by Covid-19. You can read the low profile notice here or more in the Mirror here.