Boris Johnson facing backlash over handling of Universal Credit cut
Universal Credit is set to be cut by £20 a week
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are facing backlash from their own backbench MPs over a proposed cut to Universal Credit.
It was reported at the weekend that chancellor Rishi Sunak is planning to replace the £20-a-week boost that came into action last March with a one off payment of £500 - effectively a cut, by not maintaining the extra £20 in the long term.
But the proposed cut is facing backlash from both Labour MPs and backbench Tories, who want the increased payment to continue beyond April, according to the Financial Times.
Withdrawing the £20 weekly increase would be “devastating for the six million individuals and families who are already struggling to stay afloat," say members of the Northern Research Group, a collection of Tory MPs in the north of England keen to pressure the government into investing in more deprived areas of the country.
Sunak has not yet officially laid out his policy on Universal Credit, but is reportedly very keen to bring an end to the additional £20, warning his fellow Tories that to sustain it would mean increasing taxes (on their friends).
The FT quote one ally of Sunak's as saying: “It would cost £6bn — that’s the equivalent of putting 1p on income tax and adding 5p a litre on fuel duty.
“Hopefully this will help focus minds among Conservative colleagues on what we value most.”
The most backlash on the matter comes from newly elected Tory MPs in deprived areas, who would see their constituents plunged into further poverty should Universal Credit be cut by £20 a week.
The '109 group' on WhatsApp, containing 107 Tory MPs who won their seats for the first time in the 2019 election (it's a typo, apparently), have supposedly exchanged over 350 message on the issue in one morning.
One message from an MP in the group reportedly said: “I’m completely fed up with being marched up the hill on deeply unpopular policies and being marched down again. Free school meals and schools shows our government is being run by [footballer and campaigner] Marcus Rashford and Twitter.”
Others were less concerned over inflicting even greater poverty on the already struggling, but more annoyed about the back and forth.
One MP reportedly said: "It’s not the policy that’s the problem. Nobody really thinks pushing UC up in the long term is a good solution — it comes at a colossal cost. We’re happy with Rishi’s decision to make it part of a broader settlement, but we’re not happy that no one is listening to our concerns.”