The Tories are poised to take away £1000 a year from the neediest.
“People on Universal Credit should rely on their own efforts, not money given to them by others,” says Boris Johnson.
Of course, it’s a good job the same sentiment was not used when big business held its hand out for billions in public money over the last 18mths.
Are there plans for that to be paid back?
Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.
Johnson has defended planned cuts to Universal Credit by suggesting claimants should rely on their own “efforts” rather than accept “welfare”.
The prime minister shrugged off a growing Tory rebellion over the removal of the £1,000-a-year temporary increase in Universal Credit was introduced last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and extended in March – but it is due to be scrapped in early October.
Everyone on Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit will see the uplift axed on October 6 and a new report warned that households in more than 50 Tory marginals won in 2019 would be among those hardest hit.
Johnson made a robust defence of the benefit cut plans, declaring that it was better for people to get more money by working harder than by relying on income that came from other taxpayers.
“My strong preference is for people to see their wages rise through their efforts rather than through taxation of other people put into their pay packets, rather than welfare,” he said.
He added: “The key focus for this government is on making sure that we come out of Covid strongly, with a jobs-led recovery, and I’m very pleased to see the way the unemployment numbers, the unemployment rate has been falling, employment has been rising, but also wages have been rising.”
However, critics point out that many of Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit are actually in work, but are on low wages.
Johnson’s remarks came within minutes of the Tory party revealing that a donor provided more than £52,000 to cover some of the costs of lavish renovations to his Downing Street residence.
It seems very much like the prime minister’s view is “People on Universal Credit should rely on their own efforts, not money given to them by others,” yet he sees no irony in the fact he asked others to pay for his new curtains and a nanny.
The PM was responding to a new letter from two Tory MPs who urged him to make permanent the £20-a-week increase to Universal Credit introduced at the start of the pandemic last year.
Tory MPs Peter Aldous and John Stevenson said the increase should be made permanent “so that low-income families continue to be able to make ends meet”.
Writing a letter to the prime minister, the pair say they have “very serious concerns” about the removal of the top-up and urge ministers to listen to the “widespread warnings that are coming from all quarters” on the impact the cut could have on low income families.
They add that removing the uplift, which is “one of our best legacies from the pandemic”, would go against the PM’s levelling up agenda.
“As Conservatives, we believe in giving people the stable foundations from which to progress and thrive,” the letter reads.
“We need to recognise that a well-functioning social security system is one of the crucial parts of this, giving security during life’s many ups and downs.
“Our central promise at the last election, that you articulated so well, was to level up. Infrastructure is a crucial part of this agenda, but with the emphasis solely on eye-catching projects we are at risk of forgetting the importance of investment in people in these communities, without whom this vision cannot be realised.”
It adds that those affected will see “up to £1,040 slashed from their income” and that most of these individuals are in work.
“For people unable to work, those between jobs, including those who may take a little longer to find work, and those in lower paid or insecure work, Universal Credit should and can allow people to live with dignity and prevent people descending into spiralling situations of poor mental health, debt and destitution,” the letter states.
“It is precisely these people the government should have in mind as it considers this cut to Universal Credit.”
charities have warned against withdrawing the uplift which would see the “biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since the Second World War”.
Asked about the letter on Thursday morning, the PM told broadcasters: “The key focus for this government is on making sure that we come out of COVID strongly with a jobs-led recovery.
“And I’m very pleased to see the way the unemployment numbers, the unemployment rate has been falling, employment has been rising, but also wages have been rising. That’s the crucial thing.”
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), most constituencies in England, Wales and Scotland will see more than one in three families and their children affected as a result of the £1,040-a-year cut.
And Citizens Advice have warned that a third of people on Universal Credit – over two million people – will end up in debt when the extra payment is removed.
Fellow Conservative Andrew Bridgen has also joined the campaign to keep the uplift in place beyond October.
In a post on social media on Thursday, he said: “Research released today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveals that 32% of working age families with children in North West Leicestershire have benefited from the £20 Universal Credit uplift that was introduced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has become part of people’s family budgeting in that time and I think it’s still needed. The economy is moving forward but the longer that uplift is in place now it is morally and politically impossible to remove it.
“The sooner the government come to that conclusion and remove the fear of its removal from the poorest households the better for all concerned.”