Siobhán continues to work with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and a coalition of other organisations on the Keep the Lifeline campaign to keep the pressure on Westminster Government not to cut the £20 per week increase to Universal Credit scheduled for October.
As part of this work JRF are working to raise awareness of the forthcoming cut and are encouraging as many people as possible who will be affected by the cut to contact their local MPs. There are concerns that MPs are not hearing about this issue despite the fact that many of their constituents will be impacted by this cut.
Siobhán gave evidence on the impact of this cut before the Westminster All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Universal Credit on 7th September. She started by putting the issues in context in relation to Northern Ireland including details of the numbers of Universal Credit claimants here as well as the differences for Northern Ireland including larger family sizes, high childcare costs and local mitigations.
Siobhán discussed the very negative impacts on local women if this cut goes ahead. She explained that women often act as the ‘shock absorbers’ of poverty in households and coupled with rising energy bills this cut would have a severe impact on women. Siobhán was able to share a number of quotes from local women on exactly how it would impact their everyday life including:
Siobhán referenced research from the Resolution Foundation which showed that the cut would hit 36% of non-pensioner households in Northern Ireland, the highest of all the UK regions. The cut will impact Northern Ireland harder reflecting the underlying population and the number of families with children here. Siobhán also detailed research by Save the Children in NI which shows that maintaining the £20 would lift 11,000 children in NI out of poverty and reduce poverty by 2.5 percentage points, one of the largest declines in a decadeSiobhán highlighted that making the £20 per week increase permanent and extending it to legacy benefits was a key recommendation not only from Women’s Regional Consortium research but from the recently relaunched Feminist Recovery Plan for NI and from the Government-appointed Expert Advisory Panels for an Anti-Poverty Strategy and a Gender Equality Strateg