Thérèse Coffey: Universal Credit uplift was always 'temporary'
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Universal Credit protestors arrived at Westminster on Wednesday in order to cause disruption during Prime Minister’s Questions. Protesters have also taken to the streets in other areas across the country. Universal credit was increased by £20 a week at the start of the pandemic and provided a lifeboat for many across the country.
The decision passed by the Government to scrap this has caused frustration for many in need of more support.
A report by Of Little Benefit: The necessity of the £20 Universal Credit uplift for young people seeking independence’, published today says that in June, 918,000 young people aged 16 to 24 were claiming the welfare payment.
The benefit was increased by £20-a-week at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in April last year to help hard-up households cope with the crisis.
The protests come after Minister for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, said those wanting to make up the £20 lost should work more hours.
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She told BBC Breakfast: “I’m conscious that £20 a week is about two hours’ extra work every week.
“We will be seeing what we can do to help people perhaps secure those extra hours, but ideally also to make sure they’re also in a place to get better-paid jobs, as well.”
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, tweeted that this was not true, and Coffey “either knows she’s lying or shouldn’t be in the job”.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “Therese Coffey lives on a different planet to the rest of us if she thinks already hard-pressed people can work their way to make up for the £20 being snatched from their household budget overnight.
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“Someone on Universal Credit bringing in £200 a week would need to earn an extra £67 a week to make up the £20 loss.
“Then there will be additional childcare and travel costs so making up that stolen cash is impossible and the minister knows it.
“Our members have told us that the £20 isn’t paying for luxuries, but for food, children’s shoes, school uniforms and warm clothes.
“The chancellor is making a deliberate and cruel decision to punish the country’s working poor pushing six million people, over a third of which are already in work, into poverty and debt overnight.
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“Many of them have worked right through the pandemic – in social care, in the NHS and as refuse collectors – and they deserve so much better from this government than this assault on their already poverty-level incomes.
“Unite Community members will not rest in their determined efforts to fight against this needless hardship.
“Tory ministers and MPs will never be allowed to forget what they are doing to our children and communities.”
Unite also voiced their outrage on Twitter with a picture and caption: “Fire and Rehire is an abhorrence.
“It is one of the scandals of our age, we can win and win more often if we fully commit to focusing on building union strength and organisation at the workplace.
“That is what Unite intends to do.”
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