During a Senedd debate on Universal Credit today, Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt, led a stern condemnation of the UK Government’s plan to cut the £20 per week uplift that will see thousands of individuals across Wales, in work and out, worse off.
Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said:
“It is inconceivable that the UK Government would now choose to abandon those who need us the most and who played their part in protecting our country from Covid-19.
Since last summer, we have repeatedly called on the UK Government to make the £20pw increase permanent.
In the my latest letter, signed jointly with Ministers’ from the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, we asked the UK Government to share with us their assessment on what impact the cutting this £20 lifeline would have on poverty levels.
We have still not received a response.
And if this cut of £20 per week wasn’t draconian enough, couple it with the ending of furlough, the rise in fuel costs, the unnecessary 5-week wait and the recent announcement that the UK Government will increase national insurance. A move which HMRC said could lead to a breakdown for families already on the breadline.
The UK Government is cutting a lifeline to some of the most disenfranchised in our society.
It is indefensible and frankly deplorable that the UK Government are refusing to listen and to stand by those who need them the most.
The warnings and evidence are clear, it is those who most need a safety net, who most need their Government to have their backs that will suffer.”
Outlining the Welsh Government’s response to tackling poverty in Wales the Minister said:
“The ending of the £20pw means households across Wales are heading towards a financial cliff edge. It is vital we help people to deal with the financial difficulties that they are facing now.
In the Child Poverty – Income Maximisation Action Plan, we delivered a range of projects that had a simple aim – to put more money into people’s pockets.
I am pleased that all the projects have been successful, including our first national welfare benefit take-up campaign, which, during March, helped people to claim over £650,000 of welfare benefit income.
We will deliver our second national take-up campaign this autumn.
The pandemic has seen people across Wales turning to the Discretionary Assistance Fund for help with the financial pressures they are facing.
We moved quickly to bolster the support we could offer through the DAF, which received additional £25.4m in funding during the pandemic.
Finally, the Minister stated:
“When there is so much opposition to the £20 cut, it is indefensible and frankly deplorable that the UK Government are refusing to listen and to stand by those who need them the most.
Austerity is clearly and firmly back for the poorest and lowest paid.”