WE have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak about our opposition to the decision to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week from October.

While Universal Credit (UC) remains a deeply flawed system that must be replaced, the uplift in payments has been a lifeline to many during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have all been contacted by constituents on UC who detailed just how important the money is to them and their families, and it is clear that the cut will have a profound impact in the North East. In total, it will deprive families in our region of around £41m a year and around 160,000 children in the region will be impacted by the decision.

We believe that to slash support for the most vulnerable in our society would be wrong at the best of times, but to do so during a pandemic is indefensible. In particular, the decision to combine this cut with an end to the furlough scheme, means that the main form of job retention will be removed while simultaneously reducing the main form of unemployment support.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned that the cut risks pushing 500,000 people into poverty across the country.

The government simply cannot look to our region and talk about levelling up while having so little regard for the economic impact of this cut. While the Prime Minister might insist that that the Government’s focus is on “getting people off benefits and into work”, this messaging is completely out of touch with the reality of UC, with almost 40 per cent of claimants in work.

So, alongside a strong social security system, there needs to be meaningful action from Government to tackle low wages, insecure work, and unacceptable working conditions, so that those in work do not need to rely on UC to make ends meet.

We urge you to do the right thing, support working people, and cancel your cut to Universal Credit.

Mary Kelly Foy MP, City of Durham; Nick Brown MP, Newcastle upon Tyne East; Andy McDonald MP, Middlesbrough; Alan Campbell MP, Tynemouth; Catherine McKinnell MP, Newcastle upon Tyne North; Alex Cunningham MP, Stockton North; Ian Mearns MP, Gateshead; Julie Elliott, MP Sunderland Central; Grahame Morris MP, Easington; Mary Glindon MP, North Tyneside; Chi Onwurah MP, Newcastle upon Tyne Central; Sharon Hodgson MP, Washington and Sunderland West; Kate Osborne MP, Jarrow; Kevan Jones MP, North Durham; Bridget Phillipson MP, Houghton and Sunderland South; Ian Lavery MP, Wansbeck; Liz Twist MP, Blaydon; Emma Lewell-Buck MP, South Shields.

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