Unite Community gathers in Dewsbury to object to Universal Credit cut
Members of Unite Community gathered in Dewsbury town centre to campaign against the recent cut to Universal Credit.
A £20 uplift had been given during the worst months of the pandemic until it was withdrawn in October by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.
The day of action on Wednesday, December 1, was one of a series in Conservative constituencies in the Leeds and Wakefield area in the run-up to Christmas.
It also marked the beginning of a national tour by Unite Community of some of the top marginal constituencies across the country.
Figures show there are 10,787 people on Universal Credit in Dewsbury.
At Unite Community’s stall, local people showed support for the union’s campaign and signed postcards asking Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood to contact the Chancellor to reverse the £20 cut.
Unite Community campaigns coordinator, Gerry Lavery, said: “While the last budget gave some help to people in work and claiming Universal Credit, those on very low wages or out of work have been very badly hit.
“Someone who is single and aged over 25 years old is expected to live off a basic rate of Universal Credit of £75 per week. Of course, it was £95 before the Chancellor cut it.
“As prices soar, families have not only had the £20 cut, but, according to the Resolution Foundation, on average, those families will need an extra £1,000 per year to cope with the increases in the cost of living. So, people on Universal Credit have been doubly hit recently.
“At a time when 26 per cent of children in Kirklees are living in poverty, the impact of the £20 cut will be nothing short of devastating for many and could have a serious effect on people’s well-being.
"In one part of Ravensthorpe in Dewsbury over 57 per cent of children are estimated to be living in poverty.
“Dr Chris Grover of Lancaster University, for example, has recently described the cut as a form of ‘structural violence’ inflicted by the Government.
"If you undermine the conditions of people’s lives in this way, he argues, then it will have very serious consequences over time, such as low educational attainment, poor health, reduced life expectancy, self-harm and even suicide.
“We would therefore urge Mark Eastwood to lobby the Chancellor not only to reverse the cut to those on Universal Credit, but to extend the £20 to those on other out of work benefits, namely Employment and Support Allowance and Job Seekers Allowance.
"People on these benefits never received the £20 uplift in the first place.
“As families struggle to make ends meet, it is vital that the £20 is restored.
"As Christmas is a time for giving, we would urge Mark Eastwood and other Conservative MPs to lobby Rishi Sunak and ask him to think again.
"The consequences of not doing so are too serious for too many people, to say nothing of the impact on local economies.”