MP for Coventry South Zarah Sultana has slammed the government for its “cruel” and “out of touch” refusal to cancel its plan to cut Universal Credit.
Her critique came after MPs voted 278-0 in favour of scrapping plans to reduce Universal Credit by £20 a week – £1,040 a year – in April, with nearly all Conservative MPs abstaining.
The plan will see Universal Credit cut for 6 million households in Britain, including 9,522 people in Coventry South. The Resolution Foundation estimates that this move will push 730,000 working class children into poverty over the course of the parliament.
Speaking after the vote on Monday (January 18), Labour MP Ms Sultana said: “The Conservative government’s refusal to cancel its planned cut to Universal Credit is a cruel blow to thousands of people in Coventry South and millions across the country. £20 a week can be the difference between putting food on the table and paying the bills – or being forced into poverty and desperation.
“This pathetic abstention shows that yet again that the Conservative government is out of touch with the needs of working class people. But that’s no surprise. Throughout this pandemic, the Conservatives have been eager to hand out fortunes in dodgy Covid contracts to party donors, but have to be brought kicking and screaming to help feed working class kids.
“Instead of cutting support, we should permanently raise Universal Credit and legacy benefits such as Employment Support Allowance and raise the minimum wage to a Real Living Wage of at least £10 an hour. This would provide everyone with a decent, liveable livelihood.
“We can pay for this by cracking down on tax dodgers and making the super-rich and big businesses pay their fair share. That’s how we can tackle the poverty and inequality that blights our society.”
But the government says a decision on the future of the policy has not yet been made, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak due to set out the government’s plans “shortly”.