Bad day for worst off in Newcastle as Tory government cuts to Universal Credit come into effect
"Today is a rotten day for the least well off people of Newcastle. It's a bleak day says the Tory peer who devised Universal Credit," according to Cllr Robin Ashby, who speaks for Newcastle Liberal Democrats on financial inclusion.
"The Government does not seem to understand that we cannot have a full recovery from the Covid crisis if families are struggling to make ends meet.
"The Prime Minister's claim that he wants people to live by their own 'efforts' rather than 'welfare' shows how out of touch he really is. With almost half of those receiving Universal Credit already in work and with many having young families, today's £20 cut will leave parents and their children further behind despite their own best efforts. And it's hardly realistic to expect a single mother to get a job as a long distance lorry driver or a fruit picker in East Anglia.
"The hardship experienced by many has been highlighted in recently. But in addition over 900,000 people across the country rely on carers allowance of less than £70 a week, the lowest paid benefit of its kind.
"Many struggle to make ends meet, often relying on foodbanks for themselves as well as those they care for. Liberal Democrats have led the campaign to support the country's unpaid carers many of whom are facing extreme financial hardship during the pandemic.
"In January, Liberal Democrats MPs voted not just against the reduction in Universal Credit but also to raise Carers allowance in line with the higher rate of Universal Credit. Unsurprisingly the whipped Tory majority at Westminster voted that down.
"But if our voices echo in their corridors, I'd like them to consider this. Every penny that people get for Universal Credit quickly goes back into circulation in the economy.
"It isn't hoarded, it's used. As well as food and clothing it goes to pay essential bills like utilities and rent. It keeps down the bad debt levels in business in which Conservative donors may well be invested.
"If they ignore the humanity, let them not ignore the economics."