Rishi Sunak's Universal Credit change called 'disingenuous' by Northampton councillor

Low income workers will benefit from the change but dissenters fear for those without work

By Max Pearson
Friday, 29th October 2021, 10:15 am
The main fear for Danielle Stone and charity leaders is for those who are unable to work.
The main fear for Danielle Stone and charity leaders is for those who are unable to work.

Northampton councillors and charities are criticising the government's changes to Universal Credit (UC), saying they are 'disingenuous' and threaten those who are out of work.

The claims come following the latest Budget set out by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. It features a major change to the taper rate - the rate at which UC decreases as earnings rise - by reducing it from 63p to 55p. That means working people on low wages will take home more money each week than they did before.

But concerns have been raised for those who are out of work, some because of illness, who will now experience the full £1,040 fall in their annual income due to the removal of the £20 a week uplift on October 6.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Councillor Danielle Stone, Labour leader for West Northamptonshire Council, says while the change achieves its stated goal, the majority of people on UC (63 percent according to the DWP) will still struggle.

She said: "It is the working poor who benefit somewhat from the taper.

"People who can't work because they are ill, disabled, old or are carers suffer the £20 cut to UC in a context of rising prices.

"The government is being disingenuous."

Meanwhile others say that it is a lack of funding in other areas that makes it a more serious concern. While the cut itself might be felt regardless, they say that housing difficulties will compound the issue.

Robin Burgess is CEO of the Hope Centre, Northampton, a group which tackles issues like poverty, homelessness, addiction and mental health. He says that without investment into social housing, the number of homeless will increase as people no longer afford their rent.

He said: "Although the Chancellor has made some concessions on UC, we are really disappointed that there is no real provision for social housing.

"It isn't enough and it isn't enough in key areas. Like a lack of funding for social housing.

"It's a lack of homes that causes homelessness.

"More people will be poor, more people will be hungry and more people will lose their homes.

"This is the collective view of the sector."

So while some will celebrate this fresh boost to their earnings, others will be concerned for what the winter may bring.