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Newark and Sherwood District Council members against universal credit uplift re-instatement told 'shame on you'

Council members against the re-instatement of the £20-a-week universal credit uplift were told they should be ashamed.

Paul Peacock, Labour Group leader at Newark and Sherwood District Council, put forward a motion at last night's (Tuesday) full council which asked members to agree to write to the Prime Minister urging for the money to be restored.

Paul Peacock. (36047910)
Paul Peacock. (36047910)

Mr Peacock spoke with clear passion when presenting the motion he said would, if agreed, help stop people having to make unacceptable changes to their lives just to survive.

Lee Brazier, representative for Ollerton, said: "If you truly think the decision by this government is well-founded, I can only say this to you: shame on you.

Lee Brazier.
Lee Brazier.

"This is affecting families on a daily basis and the pandemic has exacerbated this for them and, as we know, the cost of living is going up everywhere.

"One of the families I spoke to have a young child. The dad works but due to the ill health of his wife, he has had to cut down to three days a week. Take that and this cut into account, it has a huge impact on their family and are now unable to afford to send their child to nursery, let alone have a basic day out.

"To many in this room £20 a week may not seem a lot. But put yourselves in the shoes of those I've just mentioned, think what it would be like to decide between heating and eating — especially as we head into winter."

However, council leader David Lloyd had other ideas and presented an amendment. He said the authority should still write to the Prime Minister, but ask for the government to keep the arrangement under review.

David Lloyd, leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council. (42396106)
David Lloyd, leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council. (42396106)

"It's (the amendment) seeking to be more positive, constructive and more relevant, and to think more about what we can do for our residents instead of chip at the government when we might anticipate their response," said Mr Lloyd.

"This council has done a great deal during the pandemic to pass on everything to business as soon as possible and indeed to our residents — particularly those on council tax support and others.

"The times are beginning to change, it's not normal yet — there's pressures we're aware of but we must aspire to return to that and be better thereafter.

"The Conservative Party understands these issues because so many of us come from those backgrounds."

He added future generations should not be burdened with the cost.

Mr Peacock replied: "Interesting response. We're not accepting the amendment. I'm not sure it is an amendment to be honest."

Paul Peacock, the Labour Group leader on Newark and Sherwood District Council. (14908284)
Paul Peacock, the Labour Group leader on Newark and Sherwood District Council. (14908284)

He warned the £500m back to work fund announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak did not compare to the uplift.

"When I spoke with our head of finance last week, he knew nothing of it (back to work fund)," he said.

"They (Tories) thought 'if we put some big numbers out to the public, they'll accept it'.

"But the devolved powers have said that is not enough, most charities have said that is not enough and the Local Government Association has turned around and said another £500m is needed to cover the costs.

"You can shake your head Roger (Blaney), but I tell you now I don't know whether you do or not but I speak and work with people who are on the absolute breadline and have adapted their lifestyles in a way they shouldn't have to.

DWP Universal Credit (51211086)
DWP Universal Credit (51211086)

"We sit here and play politics and talk about the billions here and the kick-starter projects there — but this is happening now, those people are going to be down £220 before Christmas and they are struggling already.

"No matter what the people in high places say, the support is not there.

"Taking the £20 away with the costs of living at the moment is just absolutely wrong."

The amendment was carried, despite some opposition.

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