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DEVASTATING: Universal Credit cut will affect 58,000 families

DEVASTATING: Universal Credit cut will affect 58,000 families

Manchester council is also being asked to join the calls on the government to keep the uplift

Plans to cut Universal Credit will have a ‘devastating impact’ on more than 58,000 families in Manchester who will lose around £5m in financial support a month, councillors have warned.

The government introduced a £20-a-week uplift to benefit payments last April to help struggling households deal with the ‘economic shock and financial disruption’ of Covid-19.

But the extra payments, which ministers insist were only meant to be temporary, are due to be withdrawn on October 6.

Marcus Rashford, who forced several policy u-turns during the pandemic, has again urged prime minister Boris Johnson to rethink cutting a ‘lifeline’ for millions across the country.

Manchester council is also being asked to join the calls on the government to keep the uplift and also increase the minimum wage to ‘the real living wage that reflects the cost of living’.

A notice of motion, due to be tabled at a council meeting on Wednesday October 6 by Labour councillor Sarah Judge, said the move would affect 58,339 households in the city.

“This withdrawal will have a negative impact on low-income households in the city, including those that are working,” the motion reads.

“This will have a devastating impact on residents across our city. It has been calculated that it will result in a loss of approximately £4.96m per month to families across our city.

“Many of these households are working households in low paid jobs who rely on Universal Credit to make ends meet on a daily basis.

“We are talking about carers, shop workers, cleaners, the roles that got us all through the pandemic, the roles that had previously been described as low skilled became some of the most important roles in society when Covid hit.”

Manchester has a ‘long standing commitment to creating good jobs for residents’, the motion adds, by paying employees at least £9.78-per-hour – higher than the £9.50-per-hour calculated by the Living Wage foundation.

It also calls on councillors to support residents impacted by government changes to benefits; to continue to work to ensure jobs in the city are ‘sustainable, secure and fairly paid; and to help residents train and upskill to ensure employment is accessible to all.

The motion has been seconded by Labour councillors Emma Taylor, Julia Baker Smith and Sarah Russell.

A spokesperson for the government said: “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit was temporary.

“It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.

“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work and it’s right that the government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”

The spokesperson added: “The government is taking action to support the low paid. We have committed to increase the National Living Wage to reach two thirds of average earnings by 2024, and plan to allow up to 1.8m low-paid workers to pick up extra work if they want to by cracking down on restrictive employment contracts.”

 

Words: Niall Griffiths, Local Democracy Reporter


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