Devolved Ministers Call For Universal Credit £20 Reversal

First Ministers appeal to Boris Johnston to reverse decision of the proposed cut of £20 to Universal Credit

First Ministers appeal to Boris Johnston to reverse decision of the proposed cut of £20 to Universal Credit

How many Down News readers are receiving Universal Credit? How many Down News readers know someone receiving Universal Credit? And how many Down News readers believe there should not be a cut of £20 in Universal Credit? asks Jim Masson.

It is reassuring that there is unanimity between the First and Deputy First Minister on this occasion in Northern Ireland supporting the remonstrations of the other devolved areas of Scotland and Wales calling of Boris Johnston to do a U-turn on the proposed £20 cut to Universal Credit.

It was French philosophe Jean Jacques Rousseau who in his ‘Confessions‘ in the 18th century noted a ‘princess’ who said “let them eat cake when there was no bread (brioche).” These words were attributed to Marie Antionette who lost her head by guillotine at the start of the French Revolution.

With a winter of discontent looming, with rising prices, fuel issues, labour shortages, supply chain problems, and transport issues in a post-Brexit, post-Covid era, and the NI Assembly tottering on the verge of possible collapse over the NI Protocol, the health service under critical pressure and mental health problems on the rise, the perfect storm could soon be upon us.

But First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, together with the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales, have finally called on the Westminster Government to reverse their decision to withdraw the £20-per-week uplift to Universal Credit.

In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the leaders of the three administrations highlighted the damaging impact such a move would have on individuals and families.

First Minister Paul Givan said: “As leaders of the devolved administrations, we are calling on the UK Government to rethink their plan to withdraw this crucial uplift to Universal Credit payments.

“With furlough ended, food and energy costs on the rise and the impacts of the pandemic still being felt across society, household budgets are already under real pressure.

“The removal of this modest uplift from 134,000 people across Northern Ireland will negatively impact on their wellbeing, and that of their families. We cannot ignore the harm it would cause, including to tens of thousands of children.

“We have written to the Prime Minister to ask him to think about the consequences of this move and appeal to the Government to reconsider.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “While £20 per week may seem like a paltry sum to the British Government, to many families it makes all the difference in their children going hungry and being kept warm. It is unthinkable that this crucial lifeline would be withdrawn from households with the lowest incomes when they are already facing into a difficult winter.

“At a time when people most need support, this planned cut risks plunging countless families deeper into poverty and hardship. It is morally wrong, it’s cruel and it’s simply not good enough. But it’s not too late; and I urge Boris Johnson and his Government to do the right thing and reverse their decision urgently.”