A Covid boost to universal credit payments of twenty pounds a week will be cut in April. This will deprive households in England of more than £1000 per year, affecting hundreds of thousands of people in the East Midlands. Claims for universal credit have risen disproportionately in deprived areas during the pandemic and our region has more than its fair share of deprivation.
The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has been urged to cancel the cut by the Labour party and anti-poverty groups. Even many of the government’s own backbenchers think it’s a bad idea, with northern MPs such as Jake Berry and Paul Maynard calling for the payment to be extended for the moment. So far, Sunak has responded only by signalling that he might be prepared to offer a £500 lump sum instead.
Today, there will be an opposition day debate on this issue in the House of Commons, followed by a vote. Perhaps mindful of the damaging and on-going fallout when most Tory MPs voted against the motion on free school meals, the government is urging them to abstain today.
More from East Midlands Bylines:
Here in the East Midlands, it is disappointing that the region’s Conservative MPs have either been silent on the issue or have supported the government in its call to ignore the vote. It seems they are quite happy for their poorest families to lose out. Facebook tells me that Sarah Dines, Conservative MP for Derbyshire Dales, is due to speak in the debate this afternoon. East Midlands Bylines will be watching her very closely, to see how she intends to support her constituents.