Gordon Brown has attacked Rishi Sunak and his decision to cut the universal credit increase by £ 20 per week, calling it the “worst thing” he has done this year. Mr Brown explained that the Chancellor was aware that the costs of living, such as electricity and food bills, would increase in the coming months, but still chose to remove the increase to the dismay of thousands of people claiming the benefit. The former Labor leader criticized the move, saying the government should be “compassionate and considerate” during a crisis.
Appearing on LBC, Mr Brown has been invited to speak on humanitarian issues around the world, but has looked at the situation closer to home regarding inflation and the rising cost of living.
He told host Ben Kentish: “The worst thing the Chancellor has done in this year is to take away the £ 20 a week that has been given to the poorest six million families in the country.
“And this caused terrible distress on Christmas among families unable to give the children Christmas presents or even sometimes give the children a good Christmas meal.
“And so for having saved money at the expense of the poorest families in this country when he clearly knew that energy bills were increasing, food bills were increasing …
“The cost of living was going up, we had to treat the six million families and therefore many, many more children in a way that I believe should not become that of a government that should be compassionate and caring. in times of crisis.”
The universal credit increase of £ 20 per week was introduced as a temporary measure in April 2020 to help those claiming the benefit overcome some of the economic impacts of the pandemic.
However, the Tories have announced that they will remove the hike towards the end of October this year despite outcry from Labor and those calling for it.
Mr Sunak defended the decision, arguing that the increase was still a temporary measure, and introduced a reduction in the degressivity rate from 63p to 55p – potentially allowing UC applicants to have an additional £ 1,000 per year.
The graduated rate sets the amount that is lost from Universal Credit payments for every £ 1 earned above a certain threshold.
The move simply means that applicants can now keep more of their universal credit if they work.
The Conservatives have also invested large sums in education programs to encourage people to access highly skilled and well paying jobs.
Mr Sunak announced in his autumn budget that more than £ 500million would be invested to help people upgrade their skills and help young people enter the workforce.
The BBC reported that a community center in Everton that houses a food bank, baby bank and youth club to support people experiencing poverty has seen an increase in the number of people depending on their services.
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General manager Gerard Woodhouse said about 70 people used the food bank every week before the cut in the universal credit increase, but that number has now become the daily number.
He told the BBC: “It has exploded. We get 50 to 100 referrals a day.
“The demand is incredible. The phone never stops.
“There are so many families out there – it’s not hundreds, it’s thousands that need help. Nothing comes down. And on top of that… the families have lost £ 20.
“It makes our job much more difficult.”