The following is a letter sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak by the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Medway Labour and Cooperative Group
Dear Rishi Sunak,
The Medway Labour and Cooperative Group are appalled by the decision to remove the £20 per week uplift for Universal Credit claimants, many of whom are the most vulnerable people in Medway. We invited the ruling Medway Conservative Group to support a Council motion to write to you expressing our concerns, which they rejected. They have failed in their duty to fight in the corner of constituents across Medway who are affected by the cut. We are now writing to you and asking that the government restore the uplift payment with immediate effect.
The most recent statistics show that there are 29,000 people in our area that will be left worse off by this cut to Universal Credit, at a loss of around £7 million to our local economy in the run up to Christmas. Medway has some of the most deprived wards in the South East and in those areas there is a legacy of poor health and worrying inequality.
The cut comes at the same time as rising fuel costs, increasing housing prices and a significant hike in tax on working people through National Insurance. Nearly half of those receiving Universal Credit are in work, and this cut will only increase the pressures on these hard-working families at this difficult time. We want those on Universal Credit who are not yet working to be helped into jobs and to receive the training needed to meet the many emerging labour shortages. We want those claimants who are working to receive better wages and support the call for a high-skilled, high wage economy. However, we are a long way from those aspirations becoming a reality and are aware that the latest research from the well respected Joseph Rowntree Foundation, together with findings by YouGov on behalf of the Trussell Trust, show that 845,000 people (of whom 129,000 are children) will be pushed in to poverty by the loss of the uplift.
Those impacted will become less resilient and less likely to find work as they struggle to provide for their families and are forced to choose between heating and eating. We are also concerned that local businesses in the process of recovery will suffer a damaging loss of potential income which is particularly critical in the run up to the festive season especially as problems with supply chains are making it harder for businesses to feel secure about what they will have to offer customers.
The Medway Labour and Cooperative Group call on you to reverse this damaging cut immediately.
As this is a matter of public interest, we’ll be posting this letter on our social media outlets.
We look forward to your response.
Cllr Vince Maple Cllr Teresa Murray
Leader, Medway Labour and Coop Group Deputy Leader