More than 660,000 low-paid key workers, including nurses, supermarket staff and social workers, will be among the millions affected when the universal credit hike ends in the fall, new figures show.
London, the South East and the North West have the largest number of key workers with universal credit, according to a study by the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).
A union leader said September 30 was to be a ‘dark day’ for workers when the temporary £ 20 a week increase was halted.
The large number of key workers with universal credit is symptomatic of the problems of working poverty, RSA said.
Alan Lockey, head of the organization’s Future of Work program, said: “The link between hard work and fair pay is broken, and this reduction will only make matters worse.
“In the short term, the government must protect this vital lifeline for millions of hard-working Britons, especially our pandemic heroes working as nurses, social workers and supermarket assistants.
“In the long term, the government must make work pay, expand the use of the living wage, fight precarious work and make benefits such as sickness benefits more generous and universal.”
Jonathan Reynolds, parallel work and pensions secretary, said the cuts were “economically and morally wrong.”
“It is a shame that the same workers who got us through this crisis are in the crosshairs when it comes to low wages and cuts in universal credit,” he said.
“The government must see common sense, support families in difficulty and cancel their cut to universal credit. Work would replace universal credit with a fairer social security system.
Steve Turner, deputy general secretary of the Unite union, said the majority of benefit recipients worked but earned too little to get by.
“The determination to steal £ 20 a week from poorer workers and families is heartless and economically irresponsible,” he added.
“The cost of food and living is rising and the chaotic mess of reopening the economy means that we cannot be sure of a return to so-called normalcy.
“This £ 20 is a lifeline during this continuing uncertainty and removing it will cause some despair.
“September 30 will be a dark day for workers and our communities with [both] the cut and the end of the leave.
“It will be remembered as the day this Conservative government threw hundreds of thousands of workers and vulnerable people and children under the bus.”
A government spokesperson said: ‘Universal credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and we have announced the temporary increase as part of a £ 400 billion package. which will last well beyond the end of the roadmap.
“We are committed to putting more money in the pockets of hard-working families, which is why this year we gave a pay rise to 2 million of the UK’s lowest paid through a higher minimum wage , while we will also help people earn more by increasing opportunities.
Additional reporting by the Press Association
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This notice was published: 2021-07-24 08:53:57