40% of UC recipients are in work and will be £20 a week worse off
40% of UC recipients are in work and will be £20 a week worse off

St Helens Borough Labour have strongly condemned the Tory government budget and the cut to Universal Credit.

At last night’s full council meeting in St Helens town hall, Labour brought two motions – one condemning the cut of £20 a week to Universal Credit at a time when energy, food and other costs are rising, and a second expressing our concern and anger at a Tory Budget which does nothing for ordinary households but cuts tax for banks and champagne.

Cllr Anthony Burns brought the motion on Universal Credit. He says: “More than 19,000 people in our borough will be faced with a £20 per week cut to their income. It shouldn’t be a choice between heating and eating.

Government statistics show that 40% of people on UC are already in employment. This is not just about the unemployed. This will push more people further into poverty.

It’s not just politicians that are saying this – over 40 charities have written to the Chancellor warning him that cutting the £20 per week increase will put young people at risk of repeat homelessness. 

It’s a move that Child Poverty Action Group says will raise child poverty to one in three. In our town, in this country, in 2021 – this is absolutely disgraceful.”

Cllr Derek Long, West Park ward councillor and former Council Leader, brought the motion on the Budget. He says: “This is a bad Budget. It will cost St Helens’ households £3,000 a year. That’s £15 million every year from West Park residents alone.

There’s no help for households on climate change and the brownfield funding is only a drop in the bucket.

The Borough deserves better.”

Cllr Michelle Sweeney, Town Centre ward representative who seconded Cllr Long’s motion, says: “Looking at the budget it is evident whilst the Conservatives like three word slogans they rarely mean anything, but I have one for them: #ConservativesDontCare. Removing £20 per week from the poorest paid and most vulnerable evidences this.”

Writing in the St Helens Star this week, Council Leader David Baines said: When delivering the Government budget, the Chancellor mentioned wine 12 times, cider 10 times, and even the Civil War once. To his shame, he didn’t give a single mention to the energy crisis, the food crisis, or the climate crisis. It says everything about his and the Conservatives’ skewed priorities and ‘head in the sand’ approach to the difficulties facing households in St Helens and across the country that he could be so ignorant.

Of course, most shocking is the huge tax hikes the Government have introduced, raising the tax burden to the highest level in this country since the 1950s. With many people wondering how they’re going to heat their homes and put food on the table this winter, it’s a kick in the teeth for the government to demand even more out of their pockets.

Any fair tax system – and any government truly interested in ‘levelling up’ – would make sure those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest burden, and last week this government decided to cut tax for banks, frequent flyers (a week before COP26!) and champagne rather than for families.

Governments are always able to find money for their priorities. The problem we all face with this government is where their priorities lie. On the evidence of the budget, it’s certainly not helping ordinary households facing a winter of uncertainty.”

You can read the motions and view the webcast for the council meeting in full here: http://moderngov.sthelens.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=116&MId=11113&Ver=4

Labour Councillors Anthony Burns, Derek Long and Michelle Sweeney
Labour Councillors Anthony Burns, Derek Long and Michelle Sweeney
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