The Daily Telegraph

Coffey under fire for ‘insult’ to those facing benefit cut


‘Her own Government’s analysis revealed this cut would be “catastroph­ic” leading to more poverty’

A CABINET minister has been criticised for suggesting that people who will receive a £20-per-week cut in their Universal Credit payment should make up the difference by working more hours.

Thérèse Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said she was “entirely happy” with the decision to cut benefits for over six million people, as an uplift granted during the Covid crisis is discontinu­ed from October.

Ms Coffey told the BBC: “I’m conscious that £20 a week is about two hours’ extra work every week – we will be seeing what we can do to help people perhaps secure those extra hours, but ideally also to make sure they’re also in a place to get better paid jobs as well.”

Tory backbenche­rs and all opposition parties have opposed the end of the uplift, which they argue will make it difficult for families to eat.

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, has said the uplift was “always a temporary measure”.

Responding to Ms Coffey’s suggestion people on Universal Credit should work two hours more per week, her Labour counterpar­t Jonathan Reynolds said: “The Secretary of State’s comments this morning were an insult to hard -orking families facing this cut.

“One in 14 British workers will lose out, including 660,000 key workers.

Her own Government’s analysis revealed this cut would be ‘catastroph­ic’ leading to more poverty, more debt and an increased risk of homelessne­ss.”

Speaking in Parliament yesterday afternoon, Ms Coffey compared the Government’s Covid support measures with those of Labour after 2008.

“When we had the crisis in the late noughties, they did not do any changes to benefits, and we’re proud that we have done so,” she said.

A report published today by the Resolution Foundation, a Left-leaning think tank, said Universal Credit claimants often take home as little as £2.24 for every hour worked.

Workers on minimum wage and Universal Credit take home just £6.60, falling to £4.48 if they pay tax and NI.

Take home pay would be even lower than £2.24 an hour once any pension contributi­ons or additional childcare or travel costs are taken into account.

Adam Corlett, principal economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “A small increase in working hours will be nowhere near enough to cover the £20 a week cut coming their way in just one month’s time.”

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