Dominic Raab denies £20 UC cut will force families into stark 'heat or eat' choice

6 October 2021, 08:54 | Updated: 6 October 2021, 09:28

By James Morris

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has denied the £20 weekly cut to Universal Credit will force families into a choice between “heating or eating”.

A £20 uplift, which was introduced to help people at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, will be cut from today.

The government has come in for huge criticism amid concerns hundreds of thousands of people will be plunged into poverty.

The Save the Children charity is among those to have hit out at Downing Street, saying one child every second will be affected by the Universal Credit (UC) cut.

Dominic Raab defended the government's Universal Credit cut
Dominic Raab defended the government's Universal Credit cut. Picture: Getty

But Mr Raab, speaking this morning to LBC’s Nick Ferrari at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, insisted: “The Universal Credit uplift was always going to be temporary, it was to deal with the problem during the pandemic.”

He said the government supported 40 million jobs with the furlough scheme, and provided £400bn in state support.

Mr Raab added the government is investing £5bn in its “Kickstart” and “Restart” schemes to help people back into work.

Amid the criticism, Nick said if could still be a choice between “heat” or “eat” for many families.

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The deputy PM denied this. “I don’t think that’s right.”

He said: “We’ve got the right balance between encouraging those into work who can work, but also making sure that the welfare safety net is there for those who need it.”

From today, no UC assessments will include the uplift, meaning that from 13 October, no payments will be received that include the extra £20.

Just over 3.5 million children in the UK are living in households that receive UC payments, according to government figures.

This equates to 1.3 children being hit by the cut every second on average over a 31-day period from 13 October, Save the Children said.

Gwen Hines, the charity’s chief executive, said: “People we work with tell us they've been relying on this £20 lifeline to buy essentials like food and clothing for themselves and their children.

"Without it, tens of thousands more children are facing a cold and hungry winter."