Day of action in Dewsbury against proposed £20 cut to Universal Credit
Members of Unite Community were in Dewsbury town centre yesterday (Wednesday) to campaign against the proposed £20 per week cut to Universal Credit.
A £20 uplift was given to those on Universal Credit at the start of the coronavirus pandemic as a temporary measure.
The Government is now saying the £20 will be taken away after September, before the end of the pandemic, when food prices are rising and the current cap on fuel prices is due to be lifted.
At Wednesday’s event, members of the public were keen to put their signatures on petitions and postcards demanding that the cut be stopped. The petitions and cards will eventually be delivered to Dewsbury's Conservative MP, Mark Eastwood.
Unite Community campaigners pointed out that there are currently 11,000 people in Dewsbury on Universal Credit.
In Kirklees as a whole, there are more than 43,000 people who receive the benefit. Almost 40 per cent of those on Universal Credit are actually in work but receive it because their wages are so low.
Gerry Lavery, campaigns co-ordinator of the Leeds and Wakefield Branch of Unite Community, said: “If the cut to Universal Credit goes ahead, it will be devastating for the individuals and families concerned.
"£20 might not seem like much but, as one mother said to us on Wednesday, ‘the £20 has made a real difference’.
“Since January of this year, food prices in shops and supermarkets have increased by eight per cent, and food bank use has risen significantly. Universal Credit is also one of the lowest out of work payments in Europe.
“The Government has failed to produce any evidence to justify the cut at a time of great need. Even senior Conservatives like Iain Duncan-Smith, who introduced Universal Credit, is against the cut.
"We believe the decision to take away the £20 is casual and cruel.
“Other benefits have not been increased by £20, however.
"We and other campaigners believe those on Job Seekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance, which is claimed by many disabled people, should also receive the £20.
"There are good reasons why Mark Eastwood MP should oppose the cut to Universal Credit.
"His majority at the last election was only 1,561, yet there are 11,000 in Dewsbury on Universal Credit. If the cut goes ahead, his constituents and the local economy will lose millions.
"If he wants to keep his seat at the next election, he would be best advised to lobby Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson hard to stop the cut.
“Boris Johnson says he wants to ‘level up’ between different regions of the country. If the cut to Universal Credit in Dewsbury and elsewhere goes ahead, he will be ‘levelling down’.
"If he wants to ‘level up’, he at least needs to protect the £20 uplift and extend it to other benefits.”