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Government set to push ahead with £20 cut to Universal Credit: BASW response

We are using our voice and influence to highlight why the cut would be detrimental to children, families and people across the country

Last April, the Government announced a £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit as a measure to support people during the pandemic. This was due to come to an end in Spring 2021, but due to significant public pressure, the Government committed to extending it for a further 6 months, and have since confirmed that they will reduce Universal Credit by the same amount in Autumn 2021.

This change has a significant impact on the role of social workers as children who are in poverty are significantly more likely to be in the care of the state. The huge majority of parents in poverty parent well, but for those parents who are struggling, poverty makes the task of parenting much, much harder. Cutting Universal Credit will only make families poorer, and make parenting more difficult.

Despite this cut, the pandemic has not passed. Whilst restrictions are coming to an end, the virus still exists within our communities, and people’s incomes are still being impacted. Hairdressers will have fewer customers. Public transport will see fewer users. Tradespeople will not be getting enough jobs due to the knock-on effects of others not having the disposable income to have work done. All this means that incomes will have dropped, and this is likely to not change any time soon.

The Government also fails to recognise that Universal Credit is an in-work benefit. If you earn below a certain amount, you can claim Universal Credit to top up your income. More than 37% of Universal Credit claimants also are employed. Cutting Universal Credit does not encourage people to work – it just means that those who are working will still find themselves living in relative poverty with not enough money to get back. It will lead to families having to choose between heating and eating. The £20 a week that the Government is planning to cut from Universal Credit is £20 less that families will be able to spend on food.

The Government needs to be careful, because many of the seats they won at the 2019 General Election in the ‘red wall’ will have high levels of unemployment or are on low incomes and will be on Universal Credit. Cutting the amount of money they receive by £20 per week will cause a negative impression of the Government, and could cost them those seats at the next General Election.

This is a highly sensitive political discussion, and there is significant pressure on the Government to backtrack and cancel the planned cut. The final decision will be made in Autumn, and we will be using our voice and influence to highlight why the cut would be detrimental to children, families and people across the country.