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14th Sep 2021

Tory DWP boss ‘entirely happy’ with slashing Universal Credit for millions

Charlie Herbert

DWP secretary says she is "entirely happy" with Universal Credit cut

She also incorrectly suggested that people could work two extra hours to make up for the cut

The Department for Work and Pensions [DWP] Secretary, Therese Coffey, has come under fire for saying that she is “entirely happy” with the £20 cut to Universal Credit.

The government has said the cut to benefits, which is set to impact 6 million people across the country, will come into effect by October.

In April 2020, Universal Credit was given a £20-a-week uplift because of the impact of Covid-19, but the Tory welfare chief described this measure as a “temporary stopgap.”

Appearing on Sky News, Coffey was asked on Monday “are you entirely happy with this [the cut],” to which she replied: “Yes. We made this decision earlier this year, the Chancellor announced it in the Budget.

“And that’s why we’re building the update to the plan for jobs to make sure as we see the end of the furlough scheme, the support that’s happened there, as we see the end of the other support schemes… that we accelerate our plan for jobs.”

Shadow Child Poverty Secretary Wes Streeting tweeted his fury at the Coffey’s words, writing: “ENTIRELY HAPPY?!

“Low paid workers in our country will lose £20 a week. Including the 10% increase in National Insurance they will lose c. £1,300 a year.

“For these working families, this will HURT. More children will end up in poverty. Yet Therese Coffey is ‘entirely happy’.”

The DWP secretary then claimed on BBC Breakfast that the cut was the equivalent of two hours work a week, a statement that is factually incorrect.

This is firstly due to the fact that minimum wage for over-23s is £8.91 not £10, but secondly and more importantly the way Universal Credit works. Every £1 people earn while on Universal Credit, over a £293-a-month threshold, triggers a 63p reduction in their benefits, meaning that many claimants only gain 37p overall for every £1 in their pay packet.

It is therefore incorrect to suggest that two hours extra work a week would make up for the £20 cut from Universal Credit.

Meanwhile Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has described the Universal Credit and the National Insurance tax rise as a “double whammy” for 2.5 million working families.

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