Wigan councillor says end of universal credit uplift is 'crushing' in letter calling for it to continue

A Wigan councillor has urged the Work and Pensions Secretary to reverse the "cruel decision" to axe the £20 uplift to universal credit.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 11:37 am

Coun Nazia Rehman, who represents Tyldesley and is Wigan Council's cabinet member for finance, resources and transformation, said the move would be "crushing" to the 32,000 people across the borough who received the funding.

She wrote a letter to Therese Coffey MP appealing for her to reconsider ending the uplift, which was introduced to help the most vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coun Rehman said: "This comes at a time when energy prices are soaring, inflation is on the rise and national insurance contributions are being increased and I appeal to you to reverse this cruel decision which is so harmful to the poorest in our society.

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Coun Nazia Rehman

"The discontinuation of the £20 uplift to universal credit is crushing the very people whom the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are claiming to be ‘levelling up’.

"This cut will leave a hole of around £40m in Wigan’s residents’ pockets leaving them to choose between keeping warm or feeding themselves.

"In Wigan, in-work poverty has increased, wages are stagnant and families are struggling to make ends meet with 24.3 per cent of jobs in Wigan paying below the living wage.

"The worse impact of austerity is being borne by local children, 10,929 of whom are eligible for free school meals. The number of people forced to claim UC has more than doubled in Wigan since the start of the pandemic. More and more families are having to rely on food banks."

She highlighted the work done by the council to support residents, including food and medicine deliveries and welfare calls, with the help of community groups and volunteers.

Coun Rehman said the universal credit reduction would also "increase the burden on a local authority already under-pressure as it strives to achieve the best for its people".

She continued: "In Wigan, young people from 18 to 24 have been especially hit hard by the pandemic with 7.5 per cent unemployment. The UC cut will further exacerbate their situation, ultimately affecting their mental health which, itself, is already amounting to a national crisis.

"An annual cut of £1,040 in income represents a very significant sum for many residents who will have to choose between heating their homes and putting food on the table for

their children.

"I urge you to reverse the decision to cut the £20 uplift in universal credit on behalf of 32,000 of Wigan’s residents, who are already devastated by a decade of cruel austerity and who have suffered greatly because of the pandemic."

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