Labour’s Jonathan Reynolds says “cutting the incomes of millions of families this winter will be a catastrophe”
Nearly two million more working people are living in poverty since the Tories came to power in 2010, research reveals.
A Labour study of Office for National Statistics data found 1,975,885 more people from working families were living in poverty – deemed to be below 60% of average household income after housing costs – in 2019-20.
The analysis found that some 8,280,860 people from working families were mired in poverty by 2019-20.
That compared with 6,304,975 when the Conservatives came to power in 2010, propped up in coalition by the Liberal Democrats.
The revelation comes as the energy and cost of living crisis escalates and after the Tories slashed Universal Credit by £20-a-week for hard-up households.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was caught on film singing (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life at a Conservative Party conference karaoke bash as the welfare cut came into force last week, hours before Boris Johnson ’s closing speech.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “Our country faces a difficult winter and people need a Government on their side, not the complacency and chaos of the Conservatives.
“This Government’s decision has left millions of people with less money in their pockets and British industries and businesses on the brink.
“Cutting the incomes of millions of families this winter will be a catastrophe of the Government’s own making.
“Labour would maintain the uplift and replace Universal Credit with a fairer system that allows people to keep more of the money they earn.”
Charities seized on the findings to urge ministers to hand back the £20 a week plundered from Universal Credit – the Government’s flagship welfare payment – earlier this month.
The £1,040-a-year “uplift” was announced at the start of the coronavirus crisis in spring 2020 to help the poorest families through the pandemic.
But the Treasury refused to carry on with the £6billion-a-year commitment and it was axed last week.
Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Alison Garnham said: “Millions of families face a winter of worry because of the Universal Credit cut which has come at the worst possible time.
“The cut will push 300,000 more children into poverty – their life chances needlessly jeopardised.
“We are urging the Chancellor to back hard-pressed families by reversing the cut in the Spending Review this month.”
StepChange debt charity policy chief Peter Tutton said: “Before the cut to the £20 uplift, three in five of those StepChange clients who rely on Universal Credit had more income than outgoings each month.
“Now, the risk is that a majority may simply not have enough to make ends meet, especially as rent arrears are a particularly acute problem among this group.
“That’s why we need to see urgent steps to restore this lost income, deal with the rent arrears built up during the pandemic, and support people to regain their financial footing without being forced into expensive borrowing or further debt spirals at a time when their cost of living is rising but their income is being cut.”
A Government spokesman said: “Well-paid work is the best way to improve lives and we’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit was temporary, designed to help people through the toughest stages of the pandemic.
“It’s right that we focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more, while helping vulnerable households with the cost of essentials through a new £500m Household Support Fund.”