Millions of working Brits heading for biggest benefit cut since Second World War

Universal Credit helps six in every 10 working families (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Millions of working Brits are heading for the biggest overnight benefit cut since the Second World War, Tory ministers are warned today.

The £20-a-week Universal Credit cut from September will hit six in every 10 single-parent families and 2.3million workers, said the Joseph Rowntree Foundation think tank.

Boris Johnson this week claimed the cut would help “get people off benefits and into work” – yet 37% of claimants have a job.

That figure rises to 38% of all claimants in the Prime Minister’s constituency, with 3,665 workers in Uxbridge depending on the benefit, according to the TUC.

In Chancellor Rishi Sunak ’s Richmond seat 48% of all claimants – 3,025 people – are in work, the TUC warned.

DWP ministers admit “no assessment has been made” of how removing a £20-a-week uplift, which was brought in due to Covid in April 2020, will hit claimants.

In Chancellor Rishi Sunak ’s Richmond seat 48% of all claimants – 3,025 people – are in work
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

But a JRF analysis today warns the cut will be the biggest overnight reduction since the foundation of the modern welfare state in the 1940s.

Working Tax Credit, claimed by people who have not yet moved to UC, also received a £20 uplift so will also be cut in September.

The JRF claims half a million more people are set to be pulled into poverty, including 200,000 children, by the £1,040-a-year cut.

And the impact will be the greatest across the North of England, Wales, the West Midlands and Northern Ireland, despite the PM’s pledges to “level up” the country, the JRF claimed.

The think tank said a family-of-five in Kernow West, Cornwall, with one adult working part-time and the other full-time, would have been £271 a month above the poverty line in 2013/14.

But years of Tory benefit freezes mean that family is now below the poverty line, and will be £150 a month below it if the cut goes ahead.

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JRF director Katie Schmuecker said: "Universal Credit has been a lifeline that has helped keep millions of heads above water.

“But the new analysis should act as a stark warning of the immense, immediate and avoidable consequences of what amounts to the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since the Second World War.

"We all accept governing is about priorities.

“But cutting the incomes of millions of the poorest families and sucking money out of the places in which they live flies in the face of the Government's mission to level up our country.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Everyone should have enough money to live on.

“But if the universal credit cut goes ahead millions of working families – and key workers – will be forced to get by on much less every week. It is levelling down – not levelling up.

“Ministers should abandon this cruel cut that will hit low-income working families. We need a social security system that helps people get back on their feet – not one that locks them in poverty."

The cut is opposed by six former Tory Work and Pensions Secretaries, and two groups of Tory MPs.

A Government spokesperson said: “Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and we announced the temporary uplift as part of a £400 billion package of measures put in place that will last well beyond the end of the roadmap.

“Our focus now is on our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs, which will support people in the long-term by helping them learn new skills and increase their hours or find new work.”

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