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CABINET Members on Newport City Council have slammed the UK Government for its decision to end the £20 Universal Credit uplift.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the UK Government increased Universal Credit payments by £20 a week – but this was only a temporary measure and was ended on October 6.

Cabinet Members vented their frustrations at the withdrawal in a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, October 13.

Councillor Jane Mudd, who leads the Labour-run council, described the UK Government’s decision as “deeply distressing”.

Cllr Mudd said: “It is an absolutely appalling decision by the UK government to remove the £20 increase in universal credit. We will see the impact of this deep and even further on residents across our city.”

Cllr Debbie Harvey, who is the council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture, said: “I often wonder how MPs sleep at night.

“It is not 1821, it is 2021 – it feels like we’ve gone back in time. There are children out there starving in the UK, in Wales, in Newport. It makes me sick.”

Cllr Paul Cockerham, Cabinet Member for Social Services, echoed Cllr Harvey’s comments, describing the situation as “appalling”.

More than 5.8 million people in Wales, Scotland and England claim Universal Credit, almost 40% of which are in employment.

A charity, Health Foundation, said the cuts could effect the mental health and wellbeing of families across the UK.

Cllr Mudd said due to the pandemic and Brexit, communities in Newport are facing wider economic impacts and the cuts are placing further demand on the council and third sector support.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to universal credit was temporary. It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.

“Universal credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work and it’s right that the government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”

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