Universal Credit row: Zahawi turns tables on ‘reckless’ Labour – ‘A political stunt!’
Universal Credit: Zahawi slams Labour over ‘political stunt’
Labour will use a Commons vote on Monday evening to ramp up the intense pressure on Boris Johnson to extend the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit. Labour, who were granted an opposition day debate, want the Government to prolong the Universal Credit uplift beyond March. The Government has decided to abstain on the motion, with Dominic Raab yesterday calling the opposition day debate a “political” move.
Speaking to Sky News this morning, the vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi turned the tables on Labour and accused them of trying to scrap Universal Credit entirely.
When pressed on the move to abstain in the vote, Mr Zahawi said: “We have put in £280bn to help the economy and families cope with this extraordinarily tough time.
“It’s unfortunate that Labour have chosen a political stunt.
“This debate today has no real impact on the outcome for those families, besides a little stunt for Labour.”
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Mr Zahawi went on to claim that Whitehall civil servants were concerned about Labour’s plans to “dismantle” the Universal Credit system.
He said: “A few months ago I was speaking to the civil servants who set up the Universal Credit infrastructure, the biggest delivery programme for the most vulnerable families in the country.
“When they hear that Labour will dismantle it, that they will get rid of it, they had their heads in their hands in worry, about an opposition that is so reckless.
“This debate today is unfortunate. Labour should come out and say they will back Universal Credit.”
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Since the vote is an opposition day debate, it will not be binding and will not lead to a change in policy.
However, the vote has still piled pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson amid new findings that millions of families will be £1,000 a year worse off if the Government scraps the UC increase.
He is facing pressure from charities to maintain the uplift, with Action For Children saying the case against cutting it “couldn’t be clearer” with unemployment set to peak in the summer.
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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said families “needed certainty” incomes would be protected.
Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa Coffey insisted that the Government had “consistently stepped up” to support low-income families and the most vulnerable in society throughout the pandemic.
On Sunday, Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that Chancellor Rishi Sunak would be taking a “holistic” approach to the support on offer in the Budget scheduled for 3 March.
He said: “We’ve put that support in place to make sure that the most vulnerable communities can be protected at this very difficult time.”
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