Carla Lockhart said:
“The stark reality is that this £20 per week uplift has been a lifeline for many families across Northern Ireland.
Faced with the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, the decision by the Government to increase the level of payment was welcome as many families faced a drop in household income, while bills and living costs needed met.
However, while this move was always intended to be temporary, the impact of the pandemic remains. Indeed, it is becoming more acute with the phasing out of furlough. Furthermore, the price of food is rising, and it is widely expected that we will, like in GB, see energy price rises over the coming months. This will plunge more families into financial crisis.
This enhanced safety net of Universal Credit simply cannot be cut faced with the current and impending pressures on household budgets.
In my letter to the Chancellor, I made clear that my constituents in receipt of this benefit need it maintained at current levels and that the cut planned for the end of September must be shelved. Sadly, the response gives no indication that he is willing to reconsider his intention to cut the payment. This is deeply regrettable and will be a matter of great concern to local families as they plan their budgets for the months ahead.
I will continue to make the case for the uplift to be kept, alongside MPs of like mind at Westminster and a whole range of charities who are lobbying on this matter. It is not too late for the Government to act with compassion and understanding of the pressures facing low-income households. I hope they can see fit to do the right thing.”