The UK will violate its international human rights obligations if it presses ahead with the proposed cut in the universal credit, activists have warned.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has written to more than 350 MPs urging them “use your leverage” to stop the proposed universal credit cut when they return to parliament next week after the summer recess.
A £ 20-a-week increase, which has been described as a “lifeline” for families in trouble, has been temporarily put in place to help applicants weather the coronavirus pandemic storm, but is set to expire by the end of September.
However, the cut is opposed by six former labor and pension ministers, charities, think tanks, teachers and MPs from across the political spectrum.
The government believes it is time to focus on employment now, helping people get into employment and helping existing workers move forward in their careers.
HRW, meanwhile, argues that lifting the UK survey would violate the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, signed by the UK in 1968 and ratified in 1976, which establishes and regulates the right to a decent standard of living Social insurance.
The letter signed by HRW UK Director Yasmine Ahmed describes the move as “retrograde” and warns that it will “cause great harm”.
“A cut in the basic welfare rate for low-income people, many of whom are already employed, by more than £ 1,000 a year would put many in a position where the government’s social security system cannot guarantee their human right to a decent standard of life. “, she writes.
“In any event, a government that consciously chooses to severely curtail its protection of fundamental rights, including the right to a decent standard of living and social security, will violate those rights.”
HRW calls for an alternative to eliminating the survey and urges policymakers to focus on ensuring that the social security system provides applicants with sufficient resilience to withstand daily economic pressures.
It states that individuals who claim legacy benefits from the pre-UC system who have not received a boost should be guaranteed a corresponding boost.
Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows the government is at risk of plunging half a million people into poverty, including 200,000 children.
It adds that in 413 general election constituencies across the UK, at least a third of working-age families with children will be affected.
In addition to the HRW letter, several other bodies are calling on the government to reconsider its plans.
In fact, earlier this week, more than 100 organizations vowed to abandon the cut, warning that doing so would “fundamentally undermine” the Conservatives’ mission to move up.
Bipartisan committees in Westminster, the Northern Irish Assembly, the Welsh Senedd and the Scottish Parliament have also urged the government to make the higher payment rate permanent.
A government spokesman said: “As the Chancellor announced in the budget, the increase in the universal credit was always temporary.
“It was designed to help applicants through the economic shock and financial disruption during the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it succeeded in doing so.
“The Universal Loan will continue to provide vital assistance to both the unemployed and the unemployed, and it is right that the government focus on our plan for jobs, helping people get back into work and helping those already in work make progress and to earn more. “
However, the Ministry of Labor and Pensions has not published an impact assessment for the move.
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