In fiery exchange with PM Johnson, Birkenhead MP slams government decision to scrap Universal Credit uplift

Mick Whitley MP today challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the Government’s plans to axe the £20 a-week uplift to Universal Credit. During “Prime Minister’s Question Time” Mick warned Boris Johnson that the cut risks plunging five-hundred families and one-thousand children into poverty in his Birkenhead constituency.

The impending cut has been roundly condemned by a coalition of leading charities including the Trussell Trust, Child Poverty Action Group, and Action for Children who estimate that it threatens to push 200,000 children nationwide below the poverty line.

Opening the first Prime Minister’s Questions since the return of Parliament from recess, the Member of Parliament for Birkenhead said:

“In the run up to the last election, the Prime Minister said that “clearly it is wrong” that hundreds of thousands of people are forced to rely on foodbanks to survive.
 
But research released by the Trussell Trust today shows that 1 in 6 people fear they will almost certainly have to use a foodbank in just four weeks’ time as a result of the Government’s decision to axe the £20 uplift to Universal Credit.
 
That’s over five hundred families and a thousand children being forced into food poverty in my constituency of Birkenhead alone.
 
Will the Prime Minister concede that the cut to Universal Credit is wrong and will he change course?”

In response, Boris Johnson thanked people who volunteered at foodbanks and said that he was proud of the “arm [the Government have] put around the whole of the British people” during the pandemic.

Mick said the Prime Minister’s response showed that the Government was “utterly out of touch with the very communities it’s promised to ‘level up’. People living across my constituency are facing a perfect storm of benefit cuts, increased National Insurance contributions, a soaring cost of living, and hikes to energy bills and they have simply no idea how they’re going to get by this Winter.”

As one of the most deprived constituencies in the country, Birkenhead will be very badly hit by this callous cut to Universal Credit. In May 2021, there were 4,284 families on Universal Credit in Birkenhead – reaching an estimated 7,808 children. A further 2,900 children benefit from the increase to working tax credit.

Research published by the Trussell Trust today shows that 1 in 6 people in receipt of Universal Credit in the North West (approximately 120,000 people) believe it is “very likely” that they will be forced to skip meals when the cut goes ahead. And 1 in 4 believe they will “very likely” be unable to afford to heat their homes this winter because of the cut – the equivalent of 181,000 people.

The Labour Party planned to put the cut to a vote of the House of Commons on Wednesday 8 th September, but this was scuppered by the Leader of the House following the announcement yesterday that National Insurance contributions will rise.

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