'Universal credit cut is the worst possible decision at the worst possible time'

File photo dated 14/09/17 of a man withdrawing money from an ATM. Thousands of cash machines were pu

File photo dated 14/09/17 of a man withdrawing money from an ATM. Thousands of cash machines were put out of action during the first national lockdowns between March and May last year, with virtually none being replaced, according to new data. Issue date: Saturday August 28, 2021. - Credit: PA

Many families around the country are facing a cost of living crisis as we emerge from the pandemic.

I know from my inbox and the casework I take up as an MP that Covid-19 is still taking a big toll on family finances. Yet energy bills, childcare costs and prices are all rising, faster than wages in far too many cases. The difficulty getting fuel has only made things harder for my constituents, who are still paying the price for the government’s failure to sort this problem out.

It is against this worrying economic backdrop that the Conservative government has decided to scrap the £20 a week uplift to universal credit that was brought in at the start of the pandemic to help struggling families. This cruel, unnecessary and shameful decision will push many of my constituents into poverty, at a time when rising costs and the withdrawal of the furlough scheme and the eviction ban will be adding to the financial insecurity that people are facing.

This cut will take around £12 million away from the poorest families in Hampstead and Kilburn, including well over 10,000 households and nearly 5,000 children in my constituency. This is money that people in lower-income families cannot afford to lose, and in many households the cut will mean that a parent may not be able to buy enough food for both themselves and their child.

Many of those same families who are in work are also being targeted for a tax rise by the same government that is slashing their benefits. The Conservatives’ jobs tax, which hits workers hardest and will not even fix problems in social care, will compound the financial problems that families are facing at the moment. Along with charities, my Labour colleagues and I have been pointing out the damage these decisions will do to family budgets, but ministers do not seem to be listening.

The universal credit cut is the worst possible decision at the worst possible time. We will keep campaigning tirelessly for this to be reversed and for the government to do much more to support working families.

Tulip Siddiq (Lab) is MP for Hampstead and Kilburn.

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