Universal Credit cut is an ‘act of war’ on low paid workers

Boris Johnson's Universal Credit cut amounts to an "act of war" on the low paid and unemployed, Liverpool Wavertree MP Paula Barker has said.

The £20-a-week cut, which will go ahead next month, will impact an estimated 134,000 people across the Liverpool City Region – tens of thousands of whom have children.

Ministers have suggested people should look to work more hours or find a better paid job to make up for the shortfall, which is estimated to be more than £1,000 a year.

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Ms Barker, speaking in the House of Commons, said the cut was "grotesque".

She said: "When we are told our economy is on the road to recovery, this government shamelessly pulls the rug from under the feet of millions of decent people, it's morally reprehensible.

"It is a grotesque act of levelling down, not levelling up.

"Ultimately this represents an act of war on the low paid on the unemployed, the consequences for ordinary people will be grave, more food banks and hunger, more homelessness and more destitution, in our communities."

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Her comments came as Labour sought to pressure Johnson's government into reversing the cut with a House of Commons vote.

The vote, which called on the Government to "cancel its planned cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit", was passed by 253 votes to zero – but as it was non-binding, the government can simply ignore it.

To avoid negative headlines about Tory MPs voting against the motion, Johnson instructed his MPs to abstain from the vote.

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Wallasey MP Angela Eagle, speaking after the vote, said: "It's a disgrace that the government have now developed this habit of abstaining completely from opposition votes because they haven't got the guts to vote in the lobbies for the things that we are suggesting that they oppose because they're frightened of the effect that it will have in the constituencies."

Ministers earlier defended the termination of the uplift, saying it was only ever designed to be a temporary response to the pandemic.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said: "In the Budget earlier this year, recognising the country was still under restrictions, the Chancellor set out that we would continue the Covid financial support until the autumn, several months after the country came out of lockdown.

"As our economy continues to recover it is right that we are investing in jobs and skills to boost pay, prospects and prosperity for people right across the UK as part of our plan to level up and build back better.”

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