In response to a question at July Full Council, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources has called on the Government to retain the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit – highlighting how it supports many low paid working people in Nottingham.
There are roughly 35,000 people on Universal Credit in Nottingham and in response to the pandemic in April last year the Government introduced an increase in payments of £20 a week. There is growing speculation that the Government will reverse the uplift later this year resulting in increasing difficulty for many people who are already struggling.
Responding to a question at Full Council on the issue, Cllr Sam Webster said “Universal Credit supports low paid working people in our city, tens of thousands of children in our city and people who are entitled to support with housing costs or have lost their job during the Covid pandemic.”
Cllr Webster commenting on the consequences of the £20 a week uplift being reversed warned that “It will often be felt most acutely by Nottingham children who are growing up in families where there already isn’t much money around, families who are living in poverty.”
In January this year Nottingham City Council passed a motion urging the Government to retain the £20 a week increase to Universal Credit and urging an extension of the payment to claimants of legacy benefits who are currently excluded from the additional support. This was followed up by a letter from the Leader of Nottingham City Council to the Chancellor emphasising the importance of the £20 a week uplift.
Cllr Webster continued his response by saying “Lower paid and lower skilled working people are much more likely to have lost their job, not be able to work from home, have additional childcare needs, have gone through periods of Covid isolation without receiving pay, have lost hours at work….and the list goes on. Reducing Universal Credit now would be big blow to many families who are already struggling to make ends meet.” He also argued that the uplift in Universal Credit should be seen as a litmus test for how seriously the Government is about levelling, saying to not make the uplift permanent would be a case of “levelling down”.
Cllr Webster ended by saying “In the aftermath of the global financial crisis a decade ago it was (and still is) shameful that the poorest people in this country were made to pay the price of mistakes made by the wealthiest. In terms of the policies that our national politicians pursue – this is one of those markers – who will The Conservative Government expect to pay for this latest economic and public debt crisis? The message from Labour in Nottingham is crystal clear – let it not be the poorest families again.”