60,000 people claiming Universal Credit in Northamptonshire could benefit after ALL political parties AGREE on motion

"For me, political decisions changed lives. With this motion we have an opportunity to say, whether we're left or right, we know what's right from wrong"

Friday, 24th September 2021, 5:18 pm
Updated Friday, 24th September 2021, 11:02 pm

A motion to keep the additional £20 added on to Universal Credit during the pandemic was unanimously agreed to by all political parties at a full council meeting.

The motion was put forward by Labour councillor Emma Roberts, of the Delapre ward, and was backed by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Independent parties.

Universal Credit payments were topped up with an extra £20 a month to support vulnerable people through the Covid crisis.

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Labour councilor Emma Roberts of the Delapre ward

However, the UK government said the uplift was always temporary and had done its job.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the extra payment would stop in October, after helping people through the pandemic.

But there have been calls to make the scheme permanent.

Almost 60,000 people in Northamptonshire will be hit by the proposed changed to Universal Credit. 40,000 of those are in West Northamptonshire Council's constituency.

Councillor Roberts addressed the full council on Thursday night (September 23), saying: "I've heard some people say, '£20, what's that? It's nothing. It's only a couple of hours extra work.'

"We've also got to remember that people receiving UC are in work poverty. The scourge for many of our communities. This cut really does remove their lifeline.

"With the pressure of household finances set to increase over the coming months, now is not the time to do this [make the cut].

"For me, political decisions changed lives. With this motion we have an opportunity to say, whether we're left or right, we know what's right from wrong."

Councillor Adam Brown, deputy leader of the Conservative-led council, agreed with Councillor Roberts and voted for the motion.

Councillor Brown said: "I would fully agree with councillor Roberts that this cuts across party lines.

"This is a matter which affects people's lives. So I'd go on to say that instead of seeing this £20 uplift as a problem to be solved, we should see it as a dynamic investment in a system that can turn people's life prospects around. In turn, saving the taxpayers money while improving lives.

"UC, a vital component in creating social cohesion, is all about levelling up, this is why we shouldn't start by levelling down."

Councillor Sally Beardsworth, of the Liberal Democrats and Kingsthorpe ward, echoed councillor Brown's response.

As part of the motion, West Northamptonshire Council will be writing to Boris Johnson's government requesting them to not implement the cut.

Addressing the council after her motion voted in favour of, Councillor Roberts said: "It feels like a watershed moment.

"I find myself agreeing with councillor Brown a little bit, and that makes me slightly nervous too."

Councilor Roberts added: "I am delighted that this motion was passed with such vigour and reaffirms our commitment.

“I have written to the Chief Executive and Leader of the council today to ensure the content of the motion is enacted immediately.

“I am looking forward to being part of the work on the next steps of the anti poverty strategy and turning words in to tangible results."

Universal Credit payments, according to the government's website, are currently £257.33 a month for single claimants under 25. And £324.84 a month for single claimants aged 25 or over.