Engage: Boris Johnson ‘abandoning millions to hardship’ through Universal Credit cut

Boris Johnson is “abandoning millions” to hardship by pushing ahead with the fiercely opposed cut to Universal Credit (UC), a charity has warned.

In 35 parts of Britain, at least half of working-age families with children will be hit by the removal of the £20-a-week uplift, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said.

The worst-hit areas include Newham, in east London (64% of working-age families affected), Leicester (62%) and Manchester (61%).

Its new analysis also shows the cut will have the most severe impact in Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East, North West and West Midlands.

The temporary uplift, introduced to help claimants weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic, started to be phased out at the end of September.

From October 6 no assessments to calculate payments will include the uplift – the same day that the Prime Minister will address Conservatives at the party’s annual conference in Manchester.

The JRF said 26% of working-age families in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority area – around 312,000 families – will be hit by the cut.

The move has been widely opposed, including by six former work and pensions secretaries, charities, think tanks, teachers and MPs across the political spectrum.

It comes at a time when energy prices are rising, and ahead of a hike to National Insurance payments from next April.

Katie Schmuecker (pictured), JRF deputy director of policy and partnerships, said the decision is set to plunge half a million people into poverty and shows a “total disregard for the consequences”.

She said: “The Prime Minister is abandoning millions to hunger and hardship with his eyes wide open.

“The biggest ever overnight cut to social security flies in the face of the Government’s mission to unite and level up our country.”

She added: “The Prime Minister cannot say he has not been warned, he must abandon this cut.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit and the furlough scheme were temporary. They were designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and they have done so.

“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work, and vulnerable households across the country will be able to access a new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials over the coming months as the country continues its recovery from the pandemic.”

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