'Scrapping Universal Credit uplift will lead to poverty', MP says

Wes Streeting MP, Ilford North.

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting as questioned the withdrawing the £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit in a session with the DWP. - Credit: London Portrait Photographer - DAV

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting has warned that withdrawing the Universal Credit uplift will plunge "huge numbers" into poverty.

Speaking at a questions session with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Mr Streeting questioned the wisdom of taking away the £20 weekly uplift which has been in place since last April.

Arguing that DWP ministers clearly "understand the real difference that £20 a week Universal Credit has made", he wondered why they are having "such a difficult time" persuading chancellor Rishi Sunak on the merits of it continuing.

The boost, initially brought in for a year, is due to come to an end in less than three months.

Should it do so, the Ilford North MP fears "huge numbers" - including "300,000 children" - will be plunged into poverty.

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This specific reference comes three months after a study by the End Child Poverty coalition revealed that 28,222 Redbridge children were in poverty in 2018-19.

Equating to 41.3 per cent of the borough's children for that year, the figures also showed the number to be 39.7pc in Mr Streeting's constituency.

More recently, data collected by the Trust for London charity assessed the borough's child poverty level as being at 37pc.

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Using this backdrop to urge Mr Sunak "to do the right thing by the poorest families", the MP reiterated his desire for the uplift to be maintained. 

Responding, the under-secretary of state Will Quince MP said: "No-one in this house wants to see anyone in poverty."

He confirmed that discussions are ongoing over maintaining this uplift, and reiterated that the government has invested "several billion pounds" in supporting those who have experienced the greatest financial disruption during this pandemic.

DWP secretary Thérèse Coffey confirmed this morning that she hopes a decision will be reached "shortly", amid ongoing worry over the impact of losing this boost.

Redbridge families would no doubt feel this sting. According to the most recent DWP figures, as of November there were 32,325 people on Universal Credit in the borough. At this same point, more than 10,000 people (10,314) from Ilford North were in receipt.

December's figures are to be released by the department in the coming days. 

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