Private memo shows Universal Credit cut will be 'catastrophe' and 'disaster of autumn'

By Dan Bloom

Boris Johnson’s swingeing Universal Credit cut will have a “catastrophic” impact on Brits, a government insider has warned.

Devastating internal modelling predicts homelessness, poverty and food bank use will all rise when the benefit is slashed by £20-a-week next month, according to a Whitehall official.

The worried official declared it “could be the real disaster of the autumn”.

Ending the current “uplift”, introduced in April 2020, is opposed by six former Tory welfare chiefs, charities, landlords, opposition MPs, unions, debt groups and mortgage lenders.

Yet Boris Johnson is pressing ahead, claiming he wants to focus on working people - despite the fact 40% of the 6million claimants already have a job.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman today said there would be no reversal of the £20-a-week cut and the final decision has been made.

The official told the Financial Times: “The internal modelling of ending the UC uplift is catastrophic.

“Homelessness and poverty are likely to rise, and food banks usage will soar. It could be the real disaster of the autumn.”

Despite the alarming modelling, the Department for Work and Pensions today confirmed it has still not produced a formal impact assessment of the cut.

It’s not known exactly what format the internal modelling was in, or whether it was a full impact assessment. The modelling itself was not reproduced or quoted from.

Food bank use is expected to soar (ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

But one minister told the FT: “There’s no doubt that this is going to have a serious impact on thousands of people and colleagues are really worried, I think it will definitely eclipse social care as a political problem.

“It’s not just red wall MPs who are fearing a major backlash from the public.”

A senior Tory official added: “We need to be ahead of this. Labour will make hay with the fact we’re harming the poorest in society.”

The £86 a month being cut from UC far outstrips the National Insurance rise Boris Johnson announced this week to fund social care.

By comparison, that rise in NI will cost £30k earners £255 a year, and less for lower earners.

MPs who have been begging Boris Johnson for a U-turn for months reacted with fury.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper said: “So the Tory Government knows the Universal Credit cut will be catastrophic for homelessness, poverty and families going hungry, yet they are still ploughing ahead with it. Truly appalling.”

Labour MP Karen Buck tweeted: “So government ‘braced for catastrophe’ but not willing to take any action to avert it. Tells you everything. But there’s still time. Cancel the cut.”

A Government spokesperson said: “As announced by the Chancellor at the Budget, the uplift to Universal Credit was always temporary. It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.

“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work and it’s right that the Government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”


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