Former prime minister Gordon Brown has urged the Government not to go ahead with this week’s £20 a week cut to Universal Credit after publishing York research suggesting more than six million people are facing fuel poverty this winter.
He said analysis by Professor Jonathan Bradshaw and Dr Antonia Keung at the University of York showed 3.4 million households – covering 6.3 million adults and children – will be unable to pay escalating gas and electricity bills this winter without cutting back on food bills.
The study also indicated 840,000 people have been thrust into fuel poverty this week following the gas and electricity price increases that came in on 1 October.
Mr Brown has sent the research to Government ministers, describing the findings as “shocking”.
He said: “It is not too late for the Government to spare millions of people the choice between heating and eating this winter.
“The York research is yet more evidence that families still badly need the helping hand of government to get through, and beyond, this winter and this Covid pandemic.
“I have sent the research to ministers with a note asking them to urgently rethink this week’s immoral withdrawal of £20 per week to Universal Credit.
“It’s not the right way to save government money, coming on the top of the hike on fuel rises this week.
“It’s not the right time to abandon the families who need the helping hand of government the most.
“Sparing people destitution and enabling families to both eat and have heat is a very basic investment in our nation’s future.”
A government spokesperson said: “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit was temporary.
“It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.
“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work and it’s right that the Government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”