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Universal Credit cut will ‘hurt families’, says MP

The MP for West Tyrone has called on the British government to scrap plans to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week.

From today, claimants will see the removal of the £20 uplift brought in at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Órfhlaith Begley MP said the cut would hurt “families struggling to feed their children and heat their homes”.

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“With 134,000 people currently on Universal Credit here, with this number potentially increasing following the ending of furlough, an additional £140m per annum at least would have to be found from within the Block Grant to cover the cost which would mean resulting cuts to other Departmental budgets such as health and education,” she said.

The MP added that “pressure must be kept on the British government” to reverse the decision.

Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill, the first and deputy first ministers, joined their Scottish and Welsh counterparts in writing to the prime minister to suspend the cut.

In the letter, they say, “We are writing to call on you, with the utmost urgency, to reverse your government’s short-sighted decision to withdraw the £20-per-week uplift to Universal Credit.”

So far the government is standing by its decision, arguing that its policies are encouraging people back into work and increasing wages.

A government spokesperson said, “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit and the furlough scheme were temporary. They were designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and they have done so.”

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