#KeepTheLifeline: Standing together to stop the benefits cut

Portrait of young woman staring at camera. Woman with short hair in denim shirt looking at camera against black background. Text on the image reads "Keep the lifeline. Keep families afloat. Keep doing the right thing".

NSUN is joining a coalition of voices calling on the government to #KeepTheLifeline and stop the cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit this autumn.

In March 2020, Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit were increased by £20 a week. Initially planned as a year long increase, it was extended for a further 6 months in March of this year. The Government has made it clear: the vital increase will be scrapped come autumn. As we move towards the October deadline, time is running out to stop the cut.

Increasing universal credit by £20 a week was a long overdue action. In recent years, cuts and freezes to our levels of support have left many of us living with constant insecurity. This investment of £20 a week was a much-needed step to protect people and communities from poverty, rather than being pulled into it. The increase did not, however, go far enough. We must not forget the 1.9m+ people on legacy benefits, many of whom are disabled, who have been excluded from the increase.

The Government argues that the best route out of poverty is work, but this claim is highly misleading given most of those affected by the cut are working households. It cannot justify the biggest overnight cut to the baseline of social security since the modern system originated in the 1940s.

We cannot afford to go back to ‘business as usual’, and yet, in the midst of all this talk of ‘levelling up’, that appears to be exactly where we’re headed.

Many will lose £1040 a year if we fail to keep the lifeline and will be at real risk of poverty. We have heard from our members about the extreme stress and fear that living on the margins generates.

“I am so terrified of debt I would rather go cold than run up heating bills. I have not used my gas boiler to run the central heating in about 15 years because the cost goes up and up every year. I wear a coat, hat, gloves, slippers in doors when it gets cold, or go to bed with a hot water bottle. I have no one who could or would help me if I got into debt so I just do not spend any money if I am fearful of not having enough.”

“Poverty is a way of life, a reality and a state of mind. This cannot go on.”

The Government has a choice: cut support by £20 a week, adding to the insecurity people face, or keep this lifeline, extend it to legacy benefits, and give people the stability they need.

Write to your MP to let them know your concerns and the impact this cut would have on you and the people close to you.

Look up who your local MP is here or use the below template to email them about why you think this lifeline should be kept.

It is not right for our communities to be cut adrift. Write to your MP today to keep the lifeline.

Turn2Us have a number of templates you can personalise, whether you’re on universal credit, legacy benefits, or a supporter. Telling your MP about your experiences can make a real difference.

Update: 2nd September 2021

100 organisations across the UK, including NSUN, have joined together in urging the Government not to go ahead with the planned £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit.

You can read the open letter to the Prime Minister here.