The heads of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments have urged the government to abandon plans to cut universal loans this week for fear of a “cost of living crisis”.
A temporary hike of £ 20 per week was introduced at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but it is set to end on Wednesday. The leaders of the three decentralized nations believe that the cut would face an “unprecedented burden” on household budgets for millions of people across the UK.
Charities and opposition parties have condemned the move, while many Conservative MPs have also expressed deep concerns about the impact it could have on low-income families.
While the Conservative Party was gathering in Blackpool for its annual party conference, a joint letter was sent to Boris Johnson, First Scottish Minister Nicola Sturgeon, First Welsh Minister Mark Drakeford, and First and Deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland, Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill who have favourited heads said it was still time for a change of heart.
“Your government is pulling this lifeline back as the country faces a major cost of living crisis,” it said.
“This winter, millions of people are facing an unsustainable combination of rising food and energy costs, rising inflation, the end of the vacation program and an impending increase in social security contributions.
“There is no reason to cut such an important grant at a time when people across the UK are facing an unprecedented burden on their household budgets.”
The leaders of the decentralized nations also criticized Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s plans for a £ 500 million hardship fund to make discretionary payments to the weakest, calling it “totally unacceptable” as a substitute for the £ 6 billion increase.
“To support a meaningful recovery from this pandemic, we must first ensure that the needs of our most vulnerable are met,” they said.
“This cut threatens to undermine the recovery by reducing the ability of six million people to make ends meet.
“It is not too late to reverse the decision to take money out of the pockets of the poorest in society while they face a serious cost of living crisis.”
Commenting on the letter, Mr. Givan said: “The removal of this humble census of 134,000 people across Northern Ireland will have a negative impact on their well-being and that of their families.
“We cannot ignore the damage it would cause, even to tens of thousands of children.”
His deputy, Ms. O’Neill, meanwhile, added that the cut could drive families into poverty and urged Boris Johnson to “do the right thing”.
A government spokesman replied, “We have always realized that the universal loan increase and vacation program were temporary.
“They were designed to help applicants through the economic shock and financial disruption during the toughest stages of the pandemic, and they have done so.
“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support to the unemployed and inactive.”
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