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Social Justice

Universal credit cut ‘will put 200,000 children at risk of homelessness’

Labour says the government has overseen a “decade of neglect, negligence and failure” on housing ahead of vote to keep the £20 universal credit uplift.

Axing the £20 universal credit uplift will put 200,000 children at risk of homelessness, Labour has warned the government.

Shadow Housing Secretary Lucy Powell will use her speech at the Chartered Institute of Housing on Wednesday to launch a blistering attack on the Conservatives’ housing record, accusing the party of overseeing a decade of neglect, negligence and failure on housing and turning homes into a commodity.

Labour is also set to bring a vote to the House of Commons on Wednesday aiming to cancel the universal credit cut. The government has repeatedly said the £20 uplift brought in at the start of the first lockdown “was always temporary”. It is set to end on October 6.

New analysis from Labour found there are 447,000 families in the country whose rent is not covered by their universal credit payments. The housing element of the benefit – local housing allowance – is capped at 30% of average local rents and Labour argues a lack of affordable housing has driven up rents in many areas.

The party estimates there are 204,706 children for whom the annual uplift of £1,040 makes the difference between paying the rent and not.

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Powell will also accuse the Tories of failing to invest in housing supply, pushing up house prices and failing to provide safe and affordable homes for all – forcing households to choose between food and electricity.

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She said: “Ending the £1,040 uplift is not just social vandalism that will weaken communities, but economically illiterate damaging local economies.

“Homes are the bedrock of a successful lives, stable families and strong societies. They give us a stake in our community.

“During Covid, the country came together to make sure everybody had a safe, secure home to shelter in. The government are abandoning any progress of a better future by returning to a failed past where unaffordable, insecure housing is a gaping hole in our social safety net.”

On Monday Marcus Rashford became the latest campaigner to call for the uplift to be kept as he urged the government to instead focus on coming up with a long-term plan to end the “child hunger pandemic”.

Last week 100 organisations – including The Big Issue – signed an open letter from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning the cut would “fundamentally undermine the government’s mission to level up”.

Human rights NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also sent an open letter to MPs warning the cut would be “a human rights violation”.

Hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of losing their homes right now. One UK household is being made homeless every three-and-a-half hours.

You can help stop a potential avalanche of homelessness by joining The Big Issue’s Stop Mass Homelessness campaign. Here’s how:

@samgelder

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