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Keir Starmer Accuses Boris Johnson Of 'Turning On The Poorest' Over Universal Credit Cut

3 min read

Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of “turning on the poorest” after the Prime Minister removed the temporary £20 universal credit uplift this week.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, the Labour Party leader said that six million dependant families “desperately need that uplift in universal credit to make ends meet”.

“The government is taking £1,000 a year away from them and that is going to affect millions and millions of people who can’t make ends meet,” Starmer said.

Starmer said one of the most powerful things he'd seen in the pandemic was people's willingness to look after one another, and that there was no reason we should revert from that position. 

"Now we're coming out of it the government is effectively turning on the poorest in our society,” he added.

The Labour leader’s criticisms this morning follow an intervention from anti-poverty campaigner and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.

This week, during a ceremony in which he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester, Rashford condemned the government's decision to cut the £20 Universal Credit uplift introduced during the pandemic.

“It reminds me of my situation when I was younger to be fair,” he told BBC Breakfast after the ceremony.

“You’ve got to decide between: are you going to eat or are you going to stay warm in the house.

"These are decisions that you don’t want people to go through, nevermind children. And there’s other stuff, the price of fuel and electricity. And there’s actually a shortage of food as it is at the moment as some of the foodbanks that I work with are experiencing.

“So there’s other things that people are worrying about and if we can take one less stress of them it’s important.”

But this morning, cabinet minister Grant Shapps doubled down on the government’s decision to remove the uplift.

The Transport Secretary explained that the additional £20 was only ever introduced to provide support during the coronavirus crisis, but the crisis is now “coming to an end”.

“Governments have to make decisions and I know for example that with universal credit it made the decision proactively without any prompting to add in the £20 a week to give people additional support during coronavirus,” Shapps told BBC Breakfast.

“If you wanted to carry on with that uplift you need to find £6 billion a year from somewhere and inevitably that means taxing people… so nothing is free when you’re making these decisions.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffee, whose government department manages universal credit payments, attracted widespread criticism this week after she was filmed singing ‘Time of My Life’ at Conservative Party Conference karoke event, just hours before the cut came into force.

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