This afternoon, Rachael Maskell MP, who has campaigned against the cuts to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit, tried to block Government cuts to 7,850 of her constituents, and 6.2m families across the UK.
Poverty levels are set to rise, after the Government have rammed through a £1040 cut to Universal Credit (UC) and Working Tax Credits (WTC) in the House of Commons. In York, the 11,610 people who currently claim UC and WTC, will be stripped of the £20 a week uplift from 6 October, which predominantly goes towards topping up the very low wages in the city.
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), last year, the withdrawal of the benefits uplift will risk bringing 700,000 more people, including 300,000 more children into poverty. It could also bring 500,000 more people into deep poverty (classified as being more than 50% below the poverty line).
While the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, who’s salary exceeds £145,000 said that she was “happy” to proceed with the cuts, her solution was that low paid workers should work harder and make up the loss by working an additional 2 hours a week. Her understanding of low wages is so poor, that this would not even fill the void.
In York, we are fortunate to have a one of the highest employment rates in the country, however wages are unjustifiably low. Many people are unable to work due to serious ill health.
This cut comes at a time when just yesterday, Government forced through a tax increase to go towards paying for health and social care, which will also fall heaviest on the lowest earners.
The MP for York Central spoke in the debate to highlight the negative impact the cuts would have on 7,850 of her constituents and their families and how a review of the decision was now essential given inflation has now jumped to 3.2%.
Ms Maskell also outlined how Universal Credit should be seen as an investment in people and subsequently voted against the cut.
The MP for York Outer, neither turned up for the debate or to vote.
Rachael Maskell MP says:
“The Tories have no concept of what it is like to live on the breadline, where due to poverty wages, you cannot make the budgets balance at the end of the week. Cutting £20 a week at a time when they are introducing steep tax rises and the cost of living is shooting up just shows how out of touch they really are; every one of them should be ashamed that they are pushing people, including children into poverty.
“Every week, I meet with people who are struggling to pay the bills or buy food, this £20 a week cut will mean more people are in dire straits. Last week, I co-ordinated a meeting for all the organisations supporting those in food poverty, recognising that demand on their services is about to rise. People across York are consistently generous in making donations to York Food Bank and other food distribution points, but with the cut in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits, demand will increase.
“Today Labour committed to not only reform the punitive benefit system, but also fought to keep the £20 a week uplift. We have 3 weeks to go until these cuts come in, so will continue to fight to stop them. At the heart of Labour’s ambition is to eradicate poverty here in the UK. I urge all employers in the city to do their part too and ensure that they pay workers a fair wage that takes them out of poverty.”
The UK is the 6th richest country in the world, and yet second most inequitable.