As Lewisham Council were debating keeping the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, news was breaking that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak was bowing to public pressure and a “Tory backlash” resigning himself to continuing the uplift, despite warning it will cost £6billion a year according to the Mail online late Wednesday evening.

Unite campaign on Universal Credit

In November 2020, Unite the Union began a campaign to keep the £20 Universal Credit uplift. Also, Unite Community have been campaigning for a fairer social security system for all for years now. They say that the UK has one of the weakest welfare safety nets in Europe which had been cruelly exposed by the pandemic – and it would be morally and financially repugnant to end the £20 uplift. A survey carried out by Survation for Unite, revealed that 54 per cent of those polled wanted the £20 boost to Universal Credit, already claimed by six million people in the UK, to be extended beyond next April.

Steve Turner, Assistant General Secretary, Unite said: “This Survation survey provides further strong evidence as why we’re asking Unite members stand in solidarity and to call on councillors and others to join us in a coalition to force the government to retain the £20 increase, end the waiting time and extend payment to all legacy benefits.”

In the debate at Lewisham Council, Cllr Alan Hall said: “Twenty pounds is alot of money when you are on Universal Credit. It is the difference between eating or heating.”

“The £20 uplift makes economic sense. It boosts consumer spending more than other policies.”

“The number of people claiming Universal Credit in Lewisham has rocketed.”

“Lewisham Council should look at its website to ensure that the pathway to claim help with Council Tax is as easy and quick as it can be when you are on Universal Credit.”

Exclusive polling for PoliticsHome released on 21st January has revealed 62 percent of people polled are in favour of the government keeping the £20-a-week increase in Universal Credit welfare payments beyond March 2021. The public support is growing.

Lewisham Council debate Universal Credit at 1 hr 28

Full text of the motion to Lewisham Council:

Making the Universal Credit Increase Permanent
This council notes:

  • In April the Government plan to cut the benefit level for millions of claimants by
    ending of the time limited increase to the basic rate of Universal Credit (and the tax
    credit equivalent) announced by the Chancellor on 20th March as part of his
    pandemic response package.
  • The £20 a week boost reflected the reality that the level of benefits were not
    adequate to protect the swiftly increasing number of households relying on them as
    the crisis hit. Exactly because that increase was a very significant and welcome
    move to bolster low- and middle-income families living standards, its removal will
    be a huge loss.
  • Pressing ahead would see the level of unemployment support fall to its lowest realterms level since 1990-91, and it’s lowest ever relative to average earnings. Indeed,
    the basic level of out-of-work support prior to the March boost was – at £73 a week
    (£3,800 a year) – less than half the absolute poverty line.
  • The increase in benefits have had a positive effect on the lives of thousands of
    local claimants who are better able to pay for life’s essentials such as food, clothing
    and utilities.
  • The local economy has also benefited from the increase in benefit levels as
    claimants spend their money locally thereby supporting local businesses and jobs.
    This council resolves to:
  • Write to the Chancellor, Rushi Sunak and to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson
    demanding that the £20 increase to Universal Credit is made permanent and
    extended to claimants on legacy benefits.
  • Work with other local government organisations to form a coalition to pressure the
    government to make the £20 increase to Universal Credit permanent.

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