Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, has urged the Government to cancel their planned cut to Universal Credit, that will see thousands of people across Newcastle North lose out by more than £1000 per year in April. 

Under current Government plans 9,900 people in Newcastle North who claim Universal Credit will see their income slashed by £20 a week as cuts come into effect in April.  The Government refused to vote for Labour’s motion in the House of Commons last night that called for the cut to be scrapped.   

Catherine said:  

“I’ve been contacted by many constituents who have told me what a lifeline the extra £20 a week has been to them. Many have commented that even though they are struggling in the current economic circumstances they’ve just about managed to pay childcare costs and grocery bills with the help of that additional support. 

“The Coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on family finances across Newcastle North, with thousands of people seeing their jobs disappear and their incomes drastically reduced while facing increased costs associated with the pandemic.  Even with the vaccine providing welcome light at the end of a long dark tunnel, it’s clear that we will feel the financial effects of the pandemic for months to come.   

“Tory mismanagement has seen Britain suffer the worst recession of any major economy.  But rather than supporting families, the Government has chosen to waste £22 billions of taxpayers’ money on a testing system that doesn’t work and spent billions on contracts for Tory donors.   

“It is unthinkable that the Government should choose to slash Universal Credit in the midst of a pandemic when thousands of families across Newcastle North are relying on this lifeline.  Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak must cancel the cut”. 

You can watch Catherine speaking about the debate here:



Further information:   

According to the DWP 9,900 individuals in Newcastle North claim Universal Credit in November 2020 

According to the House of Commons Library there has been a 59% increase in people in Newcastle North claiming Universal Credit since last March. In the North East there has been a 63% increase, and in GB almost a 100% increase, or a doubling.[1]

The Resolution Foundation estimates that over a third of non-pensioner households in the North East will lose over £1000 from April if this cut goes ahead.[2]

The Government announced a 12-month £20 increase in Universal Credit at the onset of the Coronavirus crisis. The fact this step had to be taken shows that our social security system was not fit for purpose if the existing level of support was inadequate.

The Government wasted £2.1 billion on Covid-related procurement and outsourced contracts, including almost £700 million on coveralls that were never used.

In September 2020, analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) found that the withdrawal of the uplift will risk bringing 700,000 more people, including 300,000 more children into poverty. It could also bring 500,000 more people into deep poverty (classified as being more than 50% below the poverty line). It will impact 16 million people overall, including 6 million children.

JRF, along with more than 50 other charities and civil society organisations, has called on the Government to scrap the planned cut and match the increase in legacy benefits, which have remained at the same level (including JSA, ESA and Income Support.) as part of their Keep the Lifeline campaign.[3]

The Opposition Day debate motion, tabled yesterday (18th January 2021) by Labour was as follows:

Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit 
That this House believes that the Government should stop the planned cut in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit in April and give certainty today to the six million families for whom it is worth an extra £1,000 a year.