UK Government repeals COVID-19 support measures

covid-19 support
Johnson: "We don’t want to level down. We don’t want to decapitate the tall poppies, we don’t think you can make the poor parts of the country richer by making the rich parts poorer". Source: Chatham House (via. Flickr)
The UK Government has announced a cut to tax credits, the second COVID-19 support measure repealed within a short window of time

By Francesca Ionescu | Contributor

The UK Government has announced they will be phasing out the £1,040 a year universal credit and working tax credit increase that was introduced to support low-income families through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cut should come into effect on October 6, the same day as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech at the Conservative Party conference.

If the cuts go through they would be the second government policy to disproportionately affect low-income families, following the recent National Insurance increase that would miss out the wealthiest members of society.

Jonathan Reynolds, shadow work and pensions secretary, has said that the cuts will be “the biggest overnight cut to a benefit rate ever in the history of the welfare state” and will also hit the Midlands and the north more. The combination of credit cuts and 1.25 tax increase comes as a “double whammy” to families struggling with poverty, he said. 

The repealing of COVID-19 support policies have been opposed by a coalition of 100 organisations including Save the Children, the National Education union and Citizens advice; the coalition claims that most families targeted are already in work and the cuts will not serve as any extra motivation.

This contradicts Johnson’s rhetoric that cuts will serve as a way to ‘level-up’ the country.

According to the coalition, 413 constituencies will have at least a third of working-age families affected, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has concluded that 500,000 people – including 200,000 children – could be pushed into poverty. 

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer argued the money could have come from taxing landlords and “those who buy and sell large quantities of financial assets, stocks and shares.” 

The proposition of Rishi Shunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, may face a vote in the House of Commons, where it has already been opposed by a few Tory backbenchers, could face further opposition from Conservative MPs in traditional “red-wall” constituencies, which are likely to be majorly affected by these measures.


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