Nadhim Zahawi: Labour's plan to oppose Universal Credit cut is 'political stunt'

18 January 2021, 08:14

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has branded Labour's vote to oppose the planned cut to Universal Credit is a "political stunt".

Boris Johnson will come under intense pressure to extend the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit when Labour forces a Commons vote on the planned cut on Monday.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari the Government Minister said civil servants were left dismayed at the thought of the scheme being scrapped.

"They held their head in their hands when they heard Labour, Keir Starmer say he'll scrap it," the Minister told LBC.

Branding the plans by Labour a "political stunt", Mr Zahawi said the Universal Credit scheme had been one of the "unsung heroes" of the challenge of Covid.

The Prime Minister has been warned by his opposite number Sir Keir Starmer that millions of families will be £1,000 a year worse off if the Government scraps the increase.

He will also face calls to extend the uplift from Tory MPs as the Northern Research Group (NRG) said endling it now would be "devastating".

The temporary measure, designed to help families during the pandemic, is due to expire in April.

Labour will force a Commons vote on the issue later and dozens of Tory MPs say ending the increase now would be "devastating".

Labour will use its opposition day debate in the Commons on Monday afternoon to force a vote on the plans. Conservative MPs are expected to abstain.

The motion states: "This House believes that the Government should stop the planned cut in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit in April and give certainty today to the six million families for whom it is worth an extra £1,000 a year."

Sir Keir said: "Families across the UK have spent the past year worried for their loved ones, their jobs and their family's security.

"Millions of people have had to juggle childcare with working from home, have seen jobs or incomes cut or been excluded from self-employed support.

"If we don't give a helping hand to families through this pandemic, then we are going to slow our economic recovery as we come out of it.

"We began 2021 with one of the worst death tolls in Europe and the deepest recession of any major economy.

"Without action from Government, millions of families face a £1,000 per year shortfall in the midst of a historic crisis.

"We urge Boris Johnson to change course and give families certainty today that their incomes will be protected."