A group of Universal Credit claimants will stage a protest outside the UK Parliament to urge Tory MPs to back Labour’s push to cancel the £20-a-week cut to the benefit next month.
On Wednesday, members of the Unite union will hold up banners reading “Keep our families fed” and “Food is not a luxury”.
Unite said the demonstrators are standing up for the six million people in Britain who rely on Universal Credit to get by – 40% of whom are in work.
Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary, said: “Therese Coffey (work and pensions secretary) lives on a different planet to the rest of us if she thinks already hard-pressed people can work their way to make up for the £20 being snatched from their household budget overnight.
“Someone on Universal Credit bringing in £200 a week would need to earn an extra £67 a week to make up the £20 loss.
“Then there will be additional childcare and travel costs, so making up that stolen cash is impossible and the minister knows it.
“Our members have told us that the £20 isn’t paying for luxuries, but for food, children’s shoes, school uniforms and warm clothes.
“The Chancellor is making a deliberate and cruel decision to punish the country’s working poor, pushing six million people, over a third of which are already in work, into poverty and debt overnight.
“Many of them have worked right through the pandemic – in social care, in the NHS and as refuse collectors – and they deserve so much better from this Government than this assault on their already poverty-level incomes.
“Unite Community members will not rest in their determined efforts to fight against this needless hardship. Tory ministers and MPs will never be allowed to forget what they are doing to our children and communities.”
Kerry, a Universal Credit claimant from Redcar, said: “I have three children, and I can’t work at the moment because I’m a carer for my son.
“The uplift has meant keeping my head above water. Over the last year, whatever I do, the bills have just gone up and up. When the cut goes ahead I will be drowning, robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Susan, a claimant from Swansea, said: “I only started receiving Universal Credit after losing my job because of the pandemic. I didn’t even realise that there was an uplift until I received a text telling me that my next payment would be reduced by £87.
“It’s a struggle now so I don’t know how we’ll survive with cost of living and food going up. And how am I going to be able to get my children anything for Christmas now?”