Universal Credit – possible £1,000 annual cut in payments to be voted on by MPs

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MPs will vote on Monday in a bid to stop a £1,000-a-year cut to Universal Credit.

Labour will use the opposition day debate to force the vote on possible plans to end a temporary £1,000-a-year increase to the benefit introduced last year.

It was introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help struggling people during the pandemic.

Yet the increase, worth £20 a week, is due to expire in April – potentially hitting the incomes of around six million people.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to make clear his plans on whether the temporary raise will be extended beyond April when he appeared before MPs on Wednesday.

Instead, he said he would “rather see a focus on jobs and a growth in wages than focusing on welfare”.

Now Labour is trying to force the PM’s own MPs to back them in the vote.

If they do, it could potentially Johnson’s hands and force him into approving an extension – even though the vote itself would be symbolic rather than binding.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “Boris Johnson’s decision to cut Universal Credit will hit millions of families who are already struggling to get by.

“There cannot be another repeat of the Government’s indecision and mismanagement of the free school meals scandal.

“The Government must put families first during this lockdown and act now instead of waiting until the last minute.

“If ministers refuse, Conservative MPs have the opportunity to vote with Labour and give families the support they need to get through this pandemic.”

Labour highlighted figures from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that warned 200,000 children could be pushed into poverty if the cut goes ahead.

The motion Labour will put to the Commons on Monday will state: “That this House believes that the Government should stop the planned cut in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit in April and give certainty today to the six million families for whom it is worth an extra £1,000 a year.”

A Government spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting the lowest-paid families through the pandemic and beyond to ensure that nobody is left behind.

“That’s why we’ve targeted our support to those most in need by raising the living wage, spending hundreds of billions to safeguard jobs, boosting welfare support by billions and introducing the £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme to help children and families stay warm and well-fed during the coldest months.”

Opposition days are allocated in the House of Commons for the discussion of subjects chosen by the opposition.

They can make life difficult for Downing Street, which normally has control of the agenda.

The UK Parliament website states: “Many opposition motions criticise Government policies and decisions and the Government often tables an amendment to the motion to take out most of the text and replace it with text commending the Government policy or decision instead. Government amendments are usually carried under majority Governments.

“Unless specifically framed, motions tabled on opposition days are not seen as binding on the Government.”



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