Gordon Brown demands Tories halt plan to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week

Mr Brown has insisted the Government can do more (Image: PA)

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Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown has called on Rishi Sunal to scrap plans to abolish the £20 a week rise in Universal Credit currently paid to millions of families.

Mr Brown – who led the UK through the financial crisis – said the real value of child benefits must be increased to prevent child poverty falling to levels not seen since official records began.

In a speech to the Resolution Foundation, Mr Brown warned that failure to act urgently will lead to “community revolt”.

The rise in Universal Credit, announced at the beginning of the pandemic, is due to end in April next year, and campaigners have warned it could plunge millions into hardship.

The speech was the latest in a series of interventions by Mr Brown designed to get them to support the economy and jobs through the pandemic.

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He has called for massively increased funding to help young people into work.

He also threw his weight behind the Mirror's Keep Britain working campaign.

We are calling on the Government to take steps to protect jobs and keep the country in work to soften the hammer blow of the coronavirus recession and the second wave..

The ex-PM, who left office in 2010, said research by the Resolution Foundation showing that unemployment and reduced wages had already cut into the incomes of millions of families was a “must read” for the Government.

Mr Brown said: “Action is now urgent because March’s planned withdrawal of £20 from weekly Universal Credit payments will automatically bring 700,000 more into poverty, 300,000 of them children, as £6 billion of spending power is removed from an already fragile economy.

“500,000 of the already poor will be plunged into even deeper poverty as they lose out £1,000 a year.

Mr Johnson has refused to commit to extending the scheme

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“Add to this the impact of rising unemployment, rising food prices and the continuing impact of the two-child limit and the cap on benefits and other social security cuts now in train, and we face a worsening social crisis in the new year.

“I am making this call for urgent action after studying today’s important Resolution Foundation study showing that unemployment and reduced wages have already cut into the family incomes of the poorest 20% and that millions of families face the pressures of Christmas with falling savings or savings reduced to zero, and thus little cash to buy even the most basic of Christmas presents for their children without going into debt.”

Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to confirm that the uplift will continue after April.

Asked about it at PMQ's last week he said: "That uplift continues until March and I’m delighted to say that the furlough scheme is being extended right the way through to March as well and that will support people across our whole United Kingdom, protecting jobs and livelihoods across the whole UK in exactly the way that he and I would both want.”

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