Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, has reiterated his call for the Universal Credit increase to be kept in place – as Labour hold an Opposition Day Debate on the Chancellor’s plans to cut payments by £20 a week.
10,775 people in Stockton North will be affected by the cut to Universal Credit. In the Tees Valley as a whole the number of people who will be hit by the Chancellor’s plans to cut the benefit is 75,940.
The £20 increase was put in place as a result of the first lockdown – although people on so-called “legacy” benefits remain excluded. Alongside Andy McDonald, Alex raised the issue of cut in December 2020 – only to be told by the Chancellor that the increase was a “temporary measure”. The Resolution Foundation, a think tank that looks at ways of improving living standard on low and middle income families states that if the £20 cut goes ahead, the basic rate of unemployment benefit will fall to the lowest level in real-terms since 1992.
“It is outrageous that the Tory Chancellor is pressing ahead with his plans to cut Universal Credit. This is a cut that will hit the poorest in our society – people who have already been most affected by the pandemic and rely on this money.
“We’re not just in a health crisis, we’re in the midst of an economic one too. £20 a week might not seem like a lot to the Chancellor but for many in Stockton North and the Tees Valley, this increase has been a lifeline – and it will be needed beyond April 2021.
“I’m urging the Chancellor – and Tory MPs in the Tees Valley – to do the right thing: cancel the cut to Universal Credit, and ensure local people have the means to get through this crisis.”
A joint statement from the Tees Labour Groups on local councils, and Tees Labour MPs has also been issued in support of keeping the Universal Credit increase beyond April 2021.