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Gary Fuller | Councillor for Sandgate & West Folkestone

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Retain the £20 uplift to Universal Credit

August 31, 2021 12:04 PM
In Email to Rishi Sunka and Dr Thérèse Coffey
Originally published by Tim Prater | Councillor for Sandgate & West Folkestone, Sandgate Village, Harvey West & Hythe East

Debit and Credit cards [Plastic money]Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,

The decision of the Government to remove the uplift in Universal Credit on 1st October is going to hurt the poorest households in Folkestone and Hythe. As Councillors in Folkestone and Hythe, we're appreciated the £20 a week extra support to recipients of Universal Credit in our area. As leaders of our respective groups, we urge you to do the right thing by those families.

The £20 uplift to Universal Credit has helped so many families and has stopped us seeing a marked surge in poverty levels. Don't undo your best work now.

As you'll know Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Stephen Crabb, Damian Green, David Gauke, Esther McVey and Amber Rudd have said that a failure to keep the uplift in place would 'damage living standards, health and opportunities for some of the families that need our support most as we emerge from the pandemic. The extra £20 has been essential in allowing people to live with dignity'. Please, listen to your colleagues, if not to us in local government.

As you'll also know, modelling by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation indicates that around 16 million people will be in households facing an overnight income loss equivalent to £1,040 a year, with those on the lowest incomes and families with children being hardest hit. At a stroke, 700,000 more people will be pulled into poverty, including 300,000 children, and 500,000 more of those already in poverty will be plunged into deep poverty (more than 50% below the poverty line). Please, listen to those charities, if not to us in local government.

Here in Folkestone and Hythe, with around 8,500 households on Universal Credit, the uplift benefits local people and the local economy by £170,000 a week, or almost nine million pounds a year. Cutting £20 a month from households on Universal Credit won't just hurt the most needy in our area. It will hurt our economy too.

We urge you to do the right thing. Make the uplift permanent and stop families being cut adrift whilst they need help to stay afloat. Tightening the budget should not start with those least able to afford it.

Yours,

Tim Prater, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cabinet Member for Revenues, Benefits, Anti-Fraud and Corruption, Folkestone & Hythe District Council

Lesley Whybrow, Leader of the Green Party Group, Cabinet Member for the Environment, Folkestone & Hythe District Council