Universal Credit row explodes: Labour’s ‘obsession’ to axe support puts millions at risk | UK | News (Reports)

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Sir Keir Starmer claims that millions of families could be £1,000 a year worse off if the Government scraps the increase. The Government temporarily increased the benefit to help families through the Covid crisis, but the raise is due to expire in April, potentially hitting the incomes of six million families.

Labour will use its opposition day debate in the Commons on Monday afternoon to force a vote on the plans.

Conservative MPs are expected to abstain.

The votes are symbolic, and do not change policy.

Conservative MP Peter Gibson blasted: “The fact that Labour have chosen to use up Parliamentary time today to debate their policy of scrapping Universal Credit – a widely criticised plan that would leave millions of people with an uncertain future – speaks volumes for their priorities.

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“By clinging onto Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto policies and his ideological obsession with scrapping a fair welfare system that works for the British people – Keir Starmer is showing who he really is, someone who puts politics before people.

“While Labour continue to play politics with the pandemic, we will keep delivering on the people’s priorities, protecting the most vulnerable in their time of need.”

Dominic Raab told the BBC it was a “temporary measure” and the Budget would spell out support “in the round”.

In an interview with Andrew Marr, the foreign secretary confirmed that Conservative MPs would be told to abstain in Monday’s debate, meaning Labour’s “opposition day” motion will be approved.

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The standard Universal Credit allowance, which is claimed by more than 5½ million households, was increased by £20 a week in April 2020 as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s early Covid economic response.

While it was designed as a temporary response to help those unable to work or struggling due to the lockdown, opposition parties and charities say failing to extend will cause real hardship for hundreds of thousands of people.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has suggested about 16 million people will be directly affected, with millions of households facing an income loss equivalent to £1,040 a year.

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A statement from the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs last night said: “The £1000 uplift to Universal Credit has been a real life-saver for people throughout this pandemic. To end it now would be devastating”.

Around 50 Conservatives in the Northern Research Group want Boris Johnson to extend the £20 for another year.

And former Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb is among Tories who’ve urged the Prime Minister not to cut UC.

He said: “Now is really not the moment to weaken our welfare safety net. Giving families on low incomes greater security for the year ahead by extending, rather than cutting support, is the right thing to do.”

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