The devolved governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have jointly called on the UK government to reverse its decision to withdraw the £20 uplift to Universal Credit.

In a letter addressed to the prime minister, the three governments accuse Johnson’s government of “withdrawing this lifeline just as the country is facing a significant cost-of-living crisis”.

It also accuses the decision to cut the uplift of having “no rationale”.

Co-signed by Mark Drakeford, Nicola Sturgeon, Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill, it points to an “overwhelming majority” of members in Holyrood, the Senedd, Stormont and Westminster who have voiced their opposition to the cut.

It also criticises the UK government’s announcement of a Household Support Fund, saying the £500 million fund is “wholly inadequate” in making up the £6 billion shortfall in social security expenditure that will result from the cut to Universal Credit.

The letter has also been sent to the secretary of state for work and pensions, the chancellor of the exchequer and the relevant secretaries of state for the devolved nations.

It says: “Your Government is withdrawing this lifeline just as the country is facing a significant cost-of-living crisis.

“This winter millions of people are facing an untenable combination of increases to the cost of food and energy, rising inflation, the end of the furlough scheme, and an imminent hike to National Insurance contributions.

“There is no rationale for cutting such crucial support at a point when people across the UK are facing an unprecedented squeeze on their household budgets.”

They said a £500 million hardship fund announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide discretionary payments to the most vulnerable was a “wholly inadequate” replacement for the £6 billion provided through the uplift.

“To support a meaningful recovery from this pandemic we must first ensure the needs of our most vulnerable are met,” they said.

“This cut threatens to undermine the recovery by diminishing the capacity of six million people to make ends meet.

“It is not too late for you to reverse the decision to take money out of the pockets of the poorest in society at a time when they are facing a serious cost of living crisis.”

The temporary uplift, introduced to help claimants weather the storm of the pandemic, started to be phased out at the end of last month.

From October 6, no assessments to calculate payments will include the uplift – the same day that the Prime Minister will address Conservatives at the party’s annual conference in Manchester.

Poverty charity, the Joseph Roundtree Foundation, has accused Boris Johnson of “abandoning millions” to hardship by pushing ahead with the fiercely opposed cut.

Its research shows that, in 35 parts of Britain, at least half of working-age families with children will be hit by the removal of the £20-a-week uplift, plunging half a million people into poverty.

The charity’s director of policy and partnerships, Katie Schmuecker, said the decision shows a “total disregard for the consequences”.

She said: “The Prime Minister is abandoning millions to hunger and hardship with his eyes wide open.

“The biggest ever overnight cut to social security flies in the face of the Government’s mission to unite and level up our country.”

“The Prime Minister cannot say he has not been warned, he must abandon this cut.”

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