Labours Sam Mathieson’s open letter to Lucy Frazer MP


Dear Lucy Frazer

I want to ask you one simple question. Do you agree with your Cabinet colleague, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, about the £20 cut to Universal Credit? Are you, like her, entirely happy with the plan which is scheduled to go ahead in a month’s time?

Before answering my question, though, perhaps you’d like to reflect on the following

  • This is the biggest overnight benefit cut in the history of the welfare state.
  • Many groups, including the Trussell Trust, Citizens Advice, Save the Children, Disability Rights UK and Macmillian have warned this move will notably worsen poverty.
  • Half a million people could be pushed below the poverty-line. 200,000 of those are children.
  • It does not represent, as Dr Coffey asserted, two hours of extra work. Because of the way the UC taper works (taking 63p out of every £1 extra earned) a claimant on minimum wage would need to work nine more hours each and every week.
  • Struggling to make ends meet, getting into debt and worrying about putting food on the table all make it far more difficult to find time to look for new or better paid work.
  • Some claimants may not be able to work any extra hours or indeed at all, They may have caring responsibilities, disabilities or be in poor health.
  • It’s bad for the local economy. People this close to the breadline spend all their income and spend it locally.

It appears, to me, to be the exact opposite of ‘levelling up’. To me it looks like callous disregard for those who live near to or beneath the poverty line.

However, we are all entitled to our opinion and I’ll ask again what yours is. Are you entirely happy with this cut of £20 a week to Universal Credit?

Perhaps, you will prefer to agree with Sir Iain Duncan Smith (the so-called architect of Universal Credit) and five of his Conservative successors at the DWP who have written to the Chancellor asking him change the plans.

I await your reply with interest

Kind regards

Sam Mathieson

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