Boris Johnson is wrong to downplay the impact on families from the Universal Credit cut

Rising inflation and surging energy bills come as the government takes £20 a week off families in the Universal Credit cut


Today was a big deal for Boris Johnson who delivered his speech to the Conservative Party Conference.

But it’s an even bigger day for low-and-middle income households across Britain, for all the wrong reasons.

As the PM stepped up onto stage, their income took a step down with Universal Credit cut by £20 a week.

And that’s just one part of the triple whammy facing family living standards this autumn: rising inflation and surging energy bills complete the grim picture.

The Prime Minister is downplaying these headwinds to family incomes.

He’s wrong to do so, but right that some of these pressures are beyond the Government’s control – reopening the global economy is pushing up prices everywhere.

A million households will lose over 10 percent of their incomes overnight.

The Government has justified the cut to Universal Credit on the basis that people should work instead, missing the fact that the majority hit are already working.

The Prime Minister has also said that falling benefits and rising prices will be fine because wages are booming.

It’s certainly a good time to negotiate a pay rise if you’re a truck driver given major shortages, but bumper pay rises aren’t the norm for the rest of us.

With inflation expected to hit four percent by Christmas, most people will see prices going up faster than their pay checks.

The Government argues that simply switching off migration is the route to higher wages, but back in the real world we need our economy to grow if wages are to rise – and that involves the hard graft of getting workers trained and firms investing.

There is plenty the Government can do to ease Britain’s cost of living crunch.

It has rightly targeted jobs support at workers struggling to find work after furlough.

More support should be targeted at those struggling with energy bills this winter and it’s good the Government seems committed to another big increase in the National Living Wage next April.

But none of these are substitutes for the biggest call the Government should make – undoing today’s cut to Universal Credit.

First published in The Mirror