'Sorry kids Christmas is cancelled again this year'

Food bank use has tripled in Brent over the summer. Picture: Andy Buchanan/PA

With the Universal Credit cut more people will have to rely on food banks - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

I am struggling to find the words for the Conservative members of parliament who voted against making the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent - knowing the devastating effect this will have on the most vulnerable. This measure will impose the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since the foundation of the Welfare State in 1948. A shocking fact!

And this cut takes place at a time when food prices, essential and energy prices surge. This week we have all seen across the media the many families telling us the choices they face:

Do I go hungry?

Do my kids go hungry?

Or do I keep the house warm?

MP for Brent North Barry Gardiner is angry at how austerity has hit the NHS in North West London.

Barry Gardiner says cutting the Universal Credit uplift is cruel - Credit: Archant

Each month families across Brent North will have to decide which bill to dodge and queue for the basic essentials at the food bank. As one parent said:

“I dread it when my six-year old comes running out of school excitedly clutching a birthday invitation and I have to tell him he cannot go. The money I receive in Universal Credit is not enough to cover my rent and bills and certainly not the luxury of even the smallest birthday present.”

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And as Christmas approaches and the glossy adverts appear on our screens – how will these families tell their children – “sorry, Christmas is cancelled again.” There are nearly 9,000 children living in households in Brent North who are in receipt of Universal Credit and many of these families are in full-time work. Many are people in low paid jobs who have kept our country running through the pandemic. This deeply upsets me.

Even before the pandemic three-in-10 households had incomes below the Minimum Income Standard - held back by precarious work, insecure housing and low levels of state benefits by International standards.

So It is cruel and unthinkable the government are intent on pushing ahead with this cut when Covid-19 is still having a detrimental impact on the local economy here in Brent. More people have had their incomes slashed and become eligible for Universal Credit. Many have partners who have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced or wages cut. And with the furlough scheme ending it is predicted there will be a further increase in unemployment, a double whammy.

This government has completely lost touch with reality shamefully pushing the poorest people further away from work and into poverty which in turn will impact on our other vital public services, health services and housing providers.

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