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Comment: Tories Must Not Cut Support For Families Suffering the Worst

Published on: 5 Jan, 2021
Updated on: 7 Jan, 2021

Brian Creese

By Brian Creese

chair, Guildford Labour Party

When this crisis started, we were assured we were “all in it together”. But time has revealed that those who have the least have suffered the most.

That is why Guildford Labour Party is joining other Surrey Labour groups in calling on the county’s Conservative MPs to protect rather than cut the level of support for the poorest families.

As this brutal but necessary lockdown begins, Whitehall is planning to remove some of the vital protections for the most vulnerable during the pandemic. This month, the Tory government plans to end the ban on evictions and allow home repossessions.

Just as more struggling families discover their jobs are ending and their livelihoods vanish, they now have to face the worries of possible eviction.

Guildford has had a 150% rise in Universal Credit claimants, and those afflicted families are discovering just how inadequate that benefit is. The government now plans to remove their increase of £20 a week, which will push many Guildford families into poverty.

One in seven voters in Guildford is self-employed. The pandemic has hit this group the hardest with about 60% suffering a large fall in their income.

The government has let down the self-employed, excluding them from nearly all forms of support since the virus crisis began.

In such cases, the children suffer most. And when dealing with the welfare of children, our county’s MPs have failed miserably.

Angela Richardson, like all her Surrey colleagues, voted to cut free school meals before football star Marcus Rashford forced the government into a humiliating U-turn. How little our Tory MPs understand the lives of their constituents.

Guildford borough is already the eighth most unequal local authority in England, and the necessary closure of schools will lead to another surge in that inequality for many of our children, particularly in Stoke and Westborough.

Those who have the least need compassion, help and support to help them get through this dreadful time. Guildford Labour Party calls on the government to reverse these mean-spirited cuts in support for those who need it most.

And Labour’s clamour for compassion has spread throughout the county, warning that many Surrey households are “teetering on the brink of financial ruin”.

Cllr Robert Evans who represents Stanwell and Stanwell Moor on the county council, said he feared government plans to end support measures could make life almost impossible for some of the poorest families in Surrey.

“I’m pleading with the Tory MPs to put pressure on Boris Johnson to put a stop to this,” Cllr Evans said. “If these evictions and repossessions are allowed to go ahead, some families in Surrey will be turfed out of their homes through no fault of their own, just the knock-on effects of Covid-19.”

Cllr Arran Neathey, Labour leader on Runnymede Council, is also calling on the government to keep the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift.

“Nearly 10,000 of those aged 16 to 24 in Surrey are claiming Universal Credit, compared with fewer than 2,000 last year,” said Cllr Neathey. “Cutting this will mean real hardship for them.

“Millions of self-employed have also been excluded from nearly all forms of support since the virus crisis began.”

Nick Palmer, Labour leader on Waverley Council, said: “The government and their Surrey MPs must recognise their political priorities over the past 10 years have contributed to the crisis now hitting the poorest people in this generally rich country.

“The years of austerity have left many UK households without any savings to fall back on.

“One day, Surrey’s MPs must surely recognise the desperate situation in which some of their constituents have found themselves.

“The government’s knee-jerk reactions have contributed to the misery in some parts of the county and plunged the UK into the worst downturn of any major economy.”

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Responses to Comment: Tories Must Not Cut Support For Families Suffering the Worst

  1. Richard Burgess Reply

    January 6, 2021 at 10:26 am

    Allowing evictions and repossessions in the midst of this pandemic is not just cruel but dangerous for everyone involved.

  2. Kevin Smith Reply

    January 13, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    Once again Brian Creese is spot on.

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