Millions of families are set to lose £200 a month under the next phase of the Universal Credit (UC) benefit system.
The changes would see half of all lone parents and two-thirds of working-age couples with children lose around £2,400 per year. That’s what Tory work and pensions secretary Esther McVey told the cabinet, according to The Times.
Coming just days after the Tories spoke of austerity coming to an end, millions of people are now threatened with life-changing cuts.
MPs are being deluged with cases of desperate poverty hitting those transferring to UC, which is meant to roll six benefits into one. Reacting to the latest news, one Labour MP tweeted that the loss was, “More like £300 in cases I’ve handled.
“Also if you have a disabled child who stays in education post-19, you’re looking at more like £5-600 per month loss.”
The Trussell Trust charity warned last week that food bank usage had soared by over 50 percent in areas where it has been introduced. In non-UC areas food bank use was up 13 percent.
Trussell’s research has found that “Only 8 percent said their full Universal Credit award covered their cost of living. This was even less for disabled people or people with ill-health, of whom 5 percent said the award covered their cost of living.”
Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie said, “It’s not complicated—the government’s current plan will leave people already struggling without vital support.
“If nothing changes, disabled people and working families will be thrown into crisis.”
The figures come as the government prepares to press ahead with the so called “managed migration” of three million existing benefit and tax credit claimants to UC. It is a phased process starting in 2019 and finishing in 2023.
The government is due to table the new regulations for debate in the House of Commons later this month.
Under managed migrations existing claimants, including many disabled people, must apply for the new benefit by a set date or risk losing benefits entirely. Claimants will also face a five week gap between application and their first UC payment.
Any sums granted by the Department for Work and Pensions as “advance payment” are loans which must be repaid.
Food bank worker Marianne Williamson from east London told Socialist Worker, “Understand clearly what’s coming.
“There will be hunger and terror about not being able to look after your children properly. This is affecting very large numbers of people. Some of those hit are in work, but they still get cut.
“There will be more suicides and an explosion of ill-health.”
In August government figures showed sanctions under UC are at least nine times higher than the benefits it is replacing. These sanctions mean people have their financial support cut or stopped entirely
Labour has not called for UC to be scrapped. Instead it is consulting benefit claimants, job centre workers and others as part of a review of welfare policy.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told a fringe meeting at the recent conference that the "message we are getting back” was that UC had to go.
Labour should pledge immediately to scrap UC. And the trade unions and Labour must start real campaigns to halt people’s lives being wrecked.