Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has joined the Scottish and Welsh social security ministers in urging immediate action on the cost of living crisis from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Chloe Smith.
In a joint letter with the Scottish Minister for Social Security and Local Government, Ben Macpherson and the Welsh Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt, Minister Hargey voiced grave concern over the financial hardship being endured by the most vulnerable and called for swift action to be taken.
In the letter, issued after a meeting called by Minister Hargey last week, the Ministers urged: an immediate emergency uplift of £25 to Universal Credit and all legacy benefits; abolition of the benefit cap and the two-child limit; and a benefit take-up campaign.
The Ministers also echoed a call from their respective Finance Ministers for additional funding support for social security benefits, made in a letter to the Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng on 30 September.
Minister Hargey said,
“I, along with my Scottish and Welsh colleagues, am deeply concerned about the impact of the cost of living crisis on the most vulnerable, the toll that it is taking on poverty levels, including child poverty, and on the financial health and well-being of people as they struggle to cope with rising costs.
“This unprecedented crisis requires swift and targeted action to support the most vulnerable and to ensure that no one in our communities is faced with a choice between heating and eating this winter.”
Minister Hargey continued, “The £20 uplift in Universal Credit, which was implemented during the pandemic, provided a much-needed financial safety net and its withdrawal in October 2021 was strongly opposed by myself and my Scottish and Welsh colleagues at the time.
“Amongst the measures we are calling for is its reinstatement and extension to all legacy benefits with an increase to £25 to reflect the realities of the grave situation people are now facing.
“The benefit cap and the two-child policy are severely affecting families and increasing child poverty and should be abolished.
“Our determination and ability to help people is reflected in the success of the benefit take-up campaigns. We are urging the British government to follow our example in that respect and to implement the additional changes we have called for.”
Notes to editors:
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- Copy of the letter can be found here
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