More than 33,000 families across Greater Lincolnshire’s former “Red Wall” Labour seats, including almost 23,000 children, are set to lose out on more than £33 million after the government ended a £20 Universal Credit boost.
Data from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation analysed by Labour found the cuts would impact on 22,970 children living in households claiming universal credit in Lincolnshire constituencies taken by the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election.
Charities and opposition members have warned millions could be pushed further into poverty by the cuts, rising gas and fuel costs and a shortage of haulage drivers pushing prices up.
The government however, insists the rise was only temporary and that it is working to improve living standards and create jobs.
The data showed:
- Lincoln, which was reclaimed from Karen Lee by Karl McCartney, had 10,800 people on Universal Credit or Working Tax Credits, of which 4,990 are in employment. The changes will affect 7,008 children. The constituency will see £11,232,000 cut.
- Grimsby, which was taken from Melanie Onn by Lia Nici, had 11,630 on UC or WTC, with 4,765 in employment. The changes will affect 8,524 children. The constituency will see a £12,095,200 cut.
- Scunthorpe, which was taken from Nic Dakin by Holly Mumby-Croft, had 9,780 people on the two benefits, with 4,313 in employment. The changes will affect 7,438 children. The constituency will see a £10,171,200 cut.
Former Lincoln Labour MP Karen Lee said the withdrawal of the £20 Universal Credit was a “devastating blow” to some people in the city.
She added the food bank she volunteers at had already been warned of a potential rise in users.
“Whilst some rural areas of the constituency are relatively affluent, parts of the city see high levels of deprivation,” she said.
“The cost of heating our homes is rising, as is the cost of fuel. Empty supermarket shelves will inevitably lead to rises in the cost of food.
“The shortage of haulage workers will further put costs up at a time when so many people rely on shopping for all kinds of goods online.”
She accused the city’s MP Karl McCartney of showing “little or no comprehension of the plight of people in Lincoln who live with poverty,” adding her party would hold him and the Conservatives to account at the next election.
Former Scunthorpe Labour MP Nic Dakin said: “Families and businesses are struggling in the face of the Conservative cost of living crisis already.
“So this is completely the wrong time to cut support to those working families only just managing.
“I don’t think local people voted to make life harder for these families or to push more local children into poverty.”
Lincoln’s MP Conservative Karl McCartney said the key issue was to increase job opportunities for those out of work and increase wages for those on low incomes.
“This is what the Conservative government is focused on doing, as this will make people better off,” he said.
“The best way out of poverty is always employment and increasing wage levels rather than relying on the benefits or credits system – which is something Labour never seem to understand.
“They prefer to keep people on low incomes rather helping people out of poverty.”
He said the increase had “successfully supported” more than 10,000 households, but insisted it was “always meant to be temporary” like the furlough scheme, which he said had “also benefited many people in Lincoln”.
Lia Nici, Holly Mumby-Croft and Melanie Onn were also all approached for comment, but had not responded by the time of publication.