£20 Universal Credit uplift cut described as ‘indefensible’ by councillor as Mancunians are pushed further into poverty

  • Cutting the uplift has left many struggling to make ends meet 
  • Oldham and Manchester city council draw up plans to help needy

A meeting of Manchester city council was dominated by the cut in the Universal Credit £20 uplift which councillors say has left Mancunians scraping to get by.

Councillors implored the government to reconsider the changes during a full council meeting.

A motion put forward by Councillor Sarah Judge stated that “an estimated 58,339 households in our city will be impacted by yet another attack by this Tory government.

No one should be forced to choose between putting food on the table and heating their home

“Families across our city are already struggling enough after years of austerity, the rising cost of living, and the impact of Covid-19.

“This government have pushed forward with the decision where they openly accept that it’s going to push people in our city and across the country further and further into poverty. This is indefensible.”

Deputy leader, Councillor Bev Craig, said prior to the meeting that the cut “will have a serious impact on Mancunians and take £60m a year out of the city’s economy.

“No one should be forced to choose between putting food on the table and heating their home.”

The government initiated the £20 lifeline in March last year to provide for those receiving Universal Credit during the covid-19 pandemic.

It had always been meant as a temporary measure, but as the pandemic is still not over and the price of basic necessities are rising, fears of poverty are mounting.

The cut in the £20 uplift has also been protested against by charities. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation dubbed the cut as “the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since the Second World War.”

Action for Children says the cut will result in a loss of £1,040 per household over the next year.

The cut means that Mancunians are among those who are suffering.

Conservative Councillor Sahr Abid, member for Meadow Vale, refused to comment on the cut and the opposition to the cut by over 10 Tory MPs themselves.

One claimant in Oldham told NQ about her experiences with Universal Credit.

She said: “My friends were telling me that this is what’s going to happen and then I got a message in the journal saying that there’s going to be a cut.

“And I’m a single parent, as well. My first reaction was panicked. I thought ‘How am I going to pay my bills?’ The gas and electric bills are going up. How am I going to afford this?”

The claimant said the government’s logic behind the cut “doesn’t really make much sense” and its solution of “just get a job” was too simplistic.

“One of my really close friends has got three girls. She’s a single parent and there’s nothing in her fridge. She was depending on Universal Credit, she’s been affected. I’ve seen it. She couldn’t pay the bills. She gets delivery from food banks, now,” she said.

Oldham Council provides an EHP (Exceptional Financial Hardship) to help those struggling to pay council tax, and Manchester City Council has announced it plans to fund the most needy and receiving council tax support with a £150 hardship payment that would go towards  council tax bills.