Bassetlaw Council Leader Simon Greaves hits back at Government decision to reduce Universal Credit
The leader of Bassetlaw Council has slammed plans to 'cut' universal credit next month.
The Government is set to reduce the benefit by £20 per week in October - costing Bassetlaw's 2,885 recipients more than £1,000 a year - as a temporary rise during the Covid pandemic is reversed.
However, the reduction comes despite MPs voting 253-0 in favour of Labour’s non-binding motion to cancel the reduction.
Coun Simon Greaves, Labour council leader, said: “Families in Bassetlaw are desperately struggling to get back on their feet, yet this government wants to kick their legs out from under them.
“Many claimants are in work already but struggling to make ends meet due to low household incomes.
“Whacking families with a £1,000 cut in support won’t just hurt them, it will hammer the local economy too.
“These proposals will take food off the table and over £3m out of the local economy.
“Yet at the same time as the Conservatives hammer working people we know that they can find £2bn for crony Covid-19 contracts for their friends and donors.
“That tells you everything you need to know about whose side this government is really on – and it’s not us here in Bassetlaw.”
However, Brendan Clarke-Smith, Tory MP for Bassetlaw, who did not vote on Labour's motion, said although the £20 increase was “absolutely the right thing to do” during the pandemic, it all “comes at a cost”.
Mr Clarke-Smith said: “In total we have spent around £407 billion over a period of only 20 months. At some point we will need to balance the books and this means making tough decisions.
“We simply cannot continue to spend money at the current levels.
“I think it is wrong to describe it as a ‘cut’, when it has been made clear it was a temporary measure whilst restrictions were in place - it was always due to return to the previous level after this.
“It would cost around £6billion to continue with the extra £20 per week. Added to this, Labour have also regularly called for this to include Tax Credit recipients - which is another £1billion.
“It is not just bad economics to continually throw money at the welfare system - it’s also immensely unfair to clobber working people with further tax increases to cover it.
“As we build back better, we now see the opportunities available to help people achieve their goals.”
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