Gill Furniss MP Labour Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough
Dear Prime Minister,
Re Universal Credit
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, many families already struggling have found themselves out of work, furloughed or with reduced hours. The claimant count in my constituency rose sharply in 2020, almost doubling to 6,725 people in December from 3,520 before lockdown began in March.
As we find ourselves in another national lockdown, with infection rates and deaths at their highest level since the pandemic began, it is imperative that we do all we can to ensure people do not fall into poverty in the coming months. I am therefore deeply concerned by the Government’s plans to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week in April.
When asked about this by the Liaison Committee on Wednesday, you stated the following:
“I think that what we want to see is jobs. We want to see people in employment. We want to see the economy bouncing back. Most people in this country would rather see a focus on increasing wages than on welfare.”
The latest data from October 2020 shows that of the 5.7m people claiming Universal Credit nationwide, 38% were employed. In the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, he announced a public sector pay freeze. The cut in Universal Credit would therefore a hammer blow to the millions who are claiming Universal Credit during these immensely challenging times, many of whom are in work. The Joseph Rowntree foundation has warned that if this cut goes ahead, the Government risks plunging half a million people, including 200,000 children, into poverty.
As we face growing unemployment, stagnant wages and a recession, many families are already struggling to make ends meet. Removing this lifeline for those who need it most would risk making the situation even worse.
I therefore urge you to carefully rethink this decision.
Gill Furniss MP
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough