Skelmersdale County Councillor criticises Chancellor’s budget response to Universal Credit

Skelmersdale County Councillor criticises Chancellor’s budget response to Universal Credit

by Henry James (October 2021)

SKELMERSDALE County Councillor Julie Gibson, the Labour Group shadow spokesperson for economic regeneration and growth, has criticised the Universal Credit taper rate announced by the Chancellor in his Autumn Budget.

Despite joint calls from Labour and Conservative Councillors to keep the £20 uplift it was replaced in the budget by a taper rate which Cllr Gibson claims, will not help the most vulnerable recipients.

Cllr Gibson said: “There are 5.8million people on Universal Credit as of August 2021. But changes to the taper rate only affect the 2.3million claimants who are in work. That means 2.5million people will not benefit at all from the changes to the taper rate. The response from the Government is that those people should go out and find a job but the 2.5million figure includes 1.3million people who are not required to work at all due to sickness, disability and caring responsibilities.”

She continued: “These are incomes of people being hit not only by Universal Credit cuts, but by sharp rises in Council Tax, the National Insurance hike and rising energy bills. After taking £6bn out of the pockets of some of the poorest people in this country, expecting them to cheer for an extra £2bn is an insult.”

Cllr Gibson continued: “Even if you are working and on Universal Credit, you won’t necessarily be helped by the change in the taper rate. Many claimants get a ‘work allowance’ that allows them to earn a certain amount before the taper rate kicks in. Analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation think tank estimates there are 400,000 families who already earn less than their work allowance - so a change to the taper rate won’t give them an extra penny compared to now.

“The £20 uplift was a lifeline to all claimants; it has been cruelly snatched away. Many vulnerable people will now face the very real prospect of a “bleak mid-winter” as they decide whether to heat their homes or put food on their kitchen tables.”

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