Figures from the Trussell Trust show that nearly half of all households visiting foodbanks have struggled to afford essential goods because they are repaying debt accrued through UC.
In my view, our social security system is not fit for purpose when so many people need to turn to foodbanks and cannot afford essentials. UC is simply not giving people what they need to live on and is trapping families in a cycle of debt and destitution.
As I am sure you will know, in the Conservative Government’s 2021 Budget, delivered on 3 March, the Chancellor announced that UC will be reduced by £20 a week from the end of September. If this reduction goes ahead, it will cost six million families an estimated £1,000 a year. For this reason, I support maintaining UC at its current levels until it can be replaced with a new social security system which provides a proper social security safety net and has dignity and respect at its heart.
In the meantime, I want to see urgent reforms to UC and the current social security system. These include an end to the five-week wait for a first UC payment and for UC advances to be converted into grants instead of loans. In addition, I believe the UC savings limit, the benefit cap and the two-child limit for UC and Tax Credits should be abolished.
More widely, I support uprating all six legacy benefits by £20 a week in line with UC. Taking all these steps would provide immediate support to those affected by coronavirus including many people who have kept our country running during the pandemic.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue.