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16/10/2021

Foyle MP Eastwood challenges UK Government to come to Derry and justify benefit cut

Foyle MP Eastwood challenges UK Government to come to Derry and justify benefit cut

Colum Eastwood said that "according to the Foyle Foodbank, 66 per cent of those who found themselves in food poverty in Derry last year said it was down to low income, with 19 per cent due to benefit

Foyle MP, Colum Eastwood, has challenged the British Government to come to Derry to justify the £20 cut in Universal Credit to families in the city.

The SDLP leader was speaking ahead of tomorrow's reading of the Social Security Bill in the House of Commons.

If it passes through, then those dependent on the £20 Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit (WTC) uplift – brought in when the pandemic first hit – will lose that.

With that will come further financial hardship for those in Derry struggling to make ends meet.

Mr Eastwood praised those in Derry who have rallied round with donations to the Foyle Foodbank but strongly urged to Government to come and see for themselves how much more hardship the Universal Credit cut will cause.

He said: “On the same day that the government are rightly planning on increasing the pension, they're bulldozing ahead with the cut in the uplift to Universal Credit and working tax credits – taking £20 from working families and people in financial stress who need it most.

“To translate the actual human cost of this cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits, a survey conducted by the Trussell Trust found that one in five people say they will very likely need to skip meals and be unable to afford to heat their homes this winter.

“This is a damning display of heartlessness by this Tory government and their reckless policies.

“To see the damaging effect that the pandemic has had on the people of Derry, the Foyle Foodbank in their recent annual report said that foodbank users redeemed 2,498 food parcel vouchers and 58,843 kg of food and hygiene products. This generosity supported 6,805 people in our city who are in food crisis.

“According to the Foyle Foodbank, 66 per cent of those who found themselves in food poverty in Derry last year said it was down to low income, with 19 per cent due to benefit changes or delays.

“I would ask that this British government come with me and justify this uplift cut to the many families in Derry that their austere and unfair policy will adversely affect.

“I have consistently voted against cutting the Universal Credit and WTC £20 uplift and will continue to hold the Tories to account in defending Derry's working families and those in need. It's time to cancel the £20 cut.”

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