Tory and Labour councillors in Wakefield call for Universal Credit £20 uplift to stay

Conservative councillors in Wakefield have called on their own party in government to keep the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 2:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 2:34 pm

The calls, which were echoed by the local Labour group, come as the increase is set to be axed at the end of September.

The uplift was first put in place at the start of the pandemic and ministers insisted it was only supposed to be temporary.

But there is growing opposition to it being removed, amid fears it will push families beneath the breadline, at a time food and energy prices are rising steeply.

Opposition is mounting over the government's plans to cut the £20-a-week rise in payments, which ministers insist was only temporary for the duration of the pandemic.

Putting forward a motion on the issue at a full council meeting on Wednesday, Tory group leader Nic Stansby said: "I feel we need to keep the £20 uplift.

"People have been reliant on it.

"It would be fair and prudent to keep it in place for another six months to see us through the winter.

"People already may have to choose between food and fuel."

New Tory group leader Nic Stansby tabled a motion calling on the government to think again.

Figures produced by the Labour group suggest 32,000 people across the district claim Universal Credit.

Around 40 per cent of them are in work.

Labour councillor Steve Tulley told the meeting: "These are real people.

"These people have to go to work, pay their bills and they rely on the Universal Credit top-up because in most cases their pretty poor employers don't pay them enough.

Labour councillor Steve Tulley pointed out that nearly half of those claiming Universal Credit in the district are in work.

"In some cases it's not their employers, it's the costs of paying for their children and for childcare."

Coun Tulley drew a contrast between the lives of Universal Credit claimants and that of the government's vaccines minister Nadim Zahawi.

He referenced Mr Zahawi's claiming of nearly £6,000 in expenses to help fund the heating of his stables, which came to light in 2013.

Coun Tulley also said that when another Tory MP, Nadine Dorries, once suggested David Cameron and George Osborne didn't know the price of milk, "she should have included Boris Johnson in that as well".

Local Democracy Reporting Service