COVENTRY South MP Zarah Sultana is calling on the Government to cancel the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit to avert a winter poverty crisis amidst rising gas prices and energy suppliers going bankrupt.
Ms Sultana made the plea in the House of Commons after a statement by the Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP on soaring fuel prices.
Expressing concerns about the energy price cap being ‘raised to its highest ever level’ she said the situation had the potential to push half-a-million more people into fuel poverty next month.
“This is happening at the same time as an additional 800,000 people will be pushed into poverty by the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit.
“On top of that, the National Insurance hike will hit low paid workers the hardest.”
She accused the Government of making ‘political choices’ and asked: “Rather than relentlessly attacking the working class, will the Minister avert a worsening winter poverty crisis by cancelling the cut to Universal Credit, raising taxes on the richest and bringing energy companies into public ownership to slash bills and rapidly cut carbon?”
She claimed the Universal Credit changes would be the ‘biggest overnight cut to social security in the history of the welfare state’.
Mr Kwarteng responded saying the Government was ‘absolutely focused on protecting people in fuel poverty’.
He held a series of meetings with senior executives from the energy industry on Saturday to discuss the impact of high gas prices, driven by international supply and demand factors.
The Secretary of State was reassured that security of supply was not a cause for immediate concern within the industry and stressed energy security was an absolute priority for this government and the importance of protecting vulnerable customers during a time of heightened global gas prices.
The Government said schemes such as the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments would help ensure the most vulnerable were better able to heat their homes over the colder months and the Energy Price Cap was also in place to protect millions of customers from rising global gas prices this winter.