Thanet groups and individuals, including artist Tracey Emin, sign letter to government asking for u-turn on Universal Credit ‘cut’

People on Universal Credit will see their payments reduce,

Nineteen Thanet community groups and Margate artist Tracey Emin have signed a letter to government protesting against the end of a temporary £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit which was brought in during the covid pandemic.

The higher rate is due to officially end on October 6. People claiming Universal Credit will receive – or already have received – notifications about the cut to their benefit which is equivalent to £1,040 a year.

The letter has been signed by groups including Thanet Iceberg Project – responsible for The Kitchen CT9 – The Gap Project, Ramsgate Salvation Army and Margate Independent Foodbank and by both Thanet Labour and Green party members.

In it, they say the £1040 yearly reduction will impact 18,839 individuals in Thanet  with 34% -some 6,072-  in work.

Universal Credit is a payment to help with living costs for those on a low income or who are out of work. It can be claimed if the claimant is employed but they have a low income.

While every Universal Credit claim will drop by around £85 a month, the proportion of income claimants will lose will vary depending on their circumstances. Single people under 25 are set to be hit by the biggest drop.

Monthly standard allowances will drop:

By a quarter for single claimants under 25, from £344 to £257.33

By a fifth for single claimants over 25, from £411.51 to £324.84

By 17% for joint claimants under 25, from £490.60 to £403.93

By 14% for joint claimants over 25, from £596.58 to £509.91

The letter adds: “The reduction is guaranteed to impact the children of those claiming Universal Credit, There are 9,010 children classed as living in poverty in Thanet (after housing costs). This is the largest number of children of all Kent local authorities according to Kent County Council’s analytics department. 33% of Thanet children now live in poverty.”

In the letter the signatories say the cut will result in hardship for families and a massive reduction of some £19million going into the local economy.

Margate ward councillor Rob Yates said: “With rising energy prices, higher National Insurance taxes, and increasing food prices the £86 a month cut to Universal Credit can only be described as immoral.

“This £20 a week uplift brings £19m a year extra income into Thanet which is spent on local businesses and on creating jobs locally. A third of the people on Universal Credit in Thanet are in-work, so this is not just about jobs. I am very concerned what will happen this winter if this cut happens and hope that more Conservative MPs can see the error in their ways and demand an urgent U-turn from Boris and the Treasury.”

“The difference between empty cupboards and food on the table”

Morgan Wild, Head of Policy at Citizens Advice, said: “More than half a million people have come to Citizens Advice for support with Universal Credit since the pandemic. We know the extra £20 a week has often meant the difference between empty cupboards and food on the table.

“The government should do the right thing and keep this vital lifeline. It’s the best way of making good on its ‘levelling up’ promise and supporting households to recover from this crisis.”

The £20pw uplift was initially intended to last 12 months and was due to expire in April 2021. However, in the March 2021 budget, the Government announced that it would be extended for a further six months. It also said that it would make a one-off payment of £500 to eligible working tax credit recipients.

In July this year, the Government confirmed that it would withdraw the uplift at the end of September as planned. Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said that the uplift was being “phased out, in line with all the other temporary measures that are also being removed”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that as Covid-19 restrictions eased, the emphasis “has got to be on getting people in work and getting people into jobs, and that is what we are doing”.

Earlier this month MPs voted 253-0 in favour of cancelling the cut but the Labour-led vote was non-binding meaning it can be ignored.

Get help

Citizens Advice – 0344 411 1444

Letter signatories

Tracey Emin
Thanet Labour
Thanet Iceberg Project
Thanet Greens
Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet CIC
The Gap Project
GMB Trade Union
East Kent Mind
Art Education Exchange
Tracey Emin CBE RA
A Better Cliftonville
Carl Whitewood, Ramsgate Salvation Army
GRASS Cliftonville CIC
Thanet Community Churches
Rabbi Cliff Cohen, Thanet & District Reform Synagogue
Cliftonville Cultural Space
The Pavillion Youth & Community Café/Zone Youth Club, Broadstairs
The Margate School
Revd Dawn Watson
Margate Independent Foodbank CIC
GMB Trade Union



  1. With fuel prices going up so steeply come colder days it seems some of these claimants will be given the stark choice of heating or eating. Whilst it is desirable getting people into work, these jobs do need to pay a wage sufficient to lift claimant’s income above the universal credit threshold.

  2. I have been following the debate on this as much as I agree with these groups but they must have know including claimants that this money was only temporary during pandemic. The opposition parties still cannot say what they would do themselves this is typical using the poor to gain votes.

  3. I don’t see what the furore is about. It was a temporary uplift. Never intended to be permanent. It’s just like people on furlough insisting the scheme should be permanent so they can not work but still get paid most of their wages.

  4. well said thanetian blind , you are spot on , i do not understand it myself as you rightly say it was never going to be permanent , and further more the disabled never got an extra penny despite having extra costs the same as or more than others , i think most of them have just seen this as a windfall bonus for some more dope and cider

  5. Why does this government can afford to bail out the banks and energy companies but not able to bail out the poor?

    • I think we all know the answer-they own shares in them, all their public schoolboy friends work at them in executive positions & they consistently vote to punish the poorest in society, while giving tax breaks & bailing out their rich pals who vote for them.

      Look at the school meals crisis-it took a Premiership footballer to make an impact as they were just saying get lost & tough luck until then & of course his reward was then to be used as PR by them while they still did as little as possible & then have some of them tell him he should be minding his own business such as the convicted sex creeps MP wife in her private Tory chat groups & being confused with another black sportsman by the incompetent education minister who just got fired.

  6. And why don’t many of the ‘poor’ help themselves more and stop expecting everyone else to help them? I am fully aware that many do have genuine financial problems, but I also know that many have no idea on how to give up what they can’t really afford – cigarettes, drink, take-out pizzas, expensive phones etc etc. When I didn’t have any money, I went to the supermarket at the end of the day when I knew food would be reduced and cooked all my own meals and grew some veg in a friend’s garden.. I went without many things knowing that I simply couldn’t afford it. But perhaps I was ‘fortunate’ in that I was good at budgeting and gradually my life improved. I believe that everyone receiving Universal Credit should have to do a two courses – one on economical home cooking and another on budgeting.

    • Not to mention lottery tickets & scratch cards, See on a daily basis persons not well off buying many of the above with low value coins (lots of coins).

      Lived in a few areas of our lovely Uk, never seen the not so well off buying loads of over the shelf gambling products like they do in thanet !

      Good luck, i hope they have success.

    • Again, this is blaming people for addictions caused by decades of pandering & cheer-leading by governments.

      Shouldn’t the question be why have & are junk food companies, alcohol companies, gambling companies etc promoted non-stop all over the media, in sport etc? Why have junk food & drinks companies been allowed to sponsor the Olympics? Soccer teams? Why have gambling companies been allowed to produce glossy adverts showing glamourous James Bond playboy types surrounded by scantily clad babes to equate gambling as glamourous, as opposed to the reality of destitution & poverty & sponsoring most sports events? Why were tobacco companies allowed to do the same for decades & sponsor every sport going until the mid 2000’s?

      • I grew up with tobacco advertising yet never smoked, just like I never gamble and very rarely eat junk food. People need to take more responsibility for themselves instead of blaming others.

        • I know of some 90 year old obese smokers who didn’t die decades before their team with abysmal health-but that doesn’t make it healthy & the reality is the majority do succumb to advertising & pressure.

          At some point rather than just blaming people for addictions real reform is required. We thankfully no longer look at people with mental health issues & call them loonies, or say-well we all have pressures in life, so tough luck, get on with it-we help them.

          The reality is these industries have been allowed & indeed encouraged to make people unhealthy both physically & mentally with their products for decades-doing special offers to make them far cheaper than healthier options, non-stop advertising in leaflets pushed through your door by the Royal Mail & the local stores themselves-you will notice they push the booze & junk food with special offers, not healthy options. Sport has for decades been bankrolled by fags, booze, junk food & gambling-the first three the total antithesis of the health sport is supposed to promote & encourage & the latter has not just ruined the lives of the average Joe, but also blighted many professionals who are expected to promote said sites, go along to their functions etc & yet are punished when they end up becoming gambling addicts themselves.

          Think back to your childhood-mine was 1980’s & I cannot remember many obese people being around, it was a minority of people & seen as something shameful-I was I think seven or eight before Margate even had a McDonald’s. Decades of fast food stores opening, ready meals, increased plate sizes, junk food permeating supermarkets etc has led to where now being overweight & obesity is the norm.

          • Again, no-one forces people to eat junk food. The first thing seen in most supermarkets is fruit and veg, a lot of it cheaper in real terms than ever before (I should know, I helped run a greengrocers for several years in the late 80s). If they just walk past that and go directly to the pizza isle, then it is their fault, no-one elses.

    • I agree, but too be fair though Jane you could have had a very different upbringing to alot of people. You have to remember financial knowledge (even the most basic) is purposely not taught in our schools. Many of them didn’t have parents or around people that would teach things that most of us would think as common sense around money. Also bad habits are often generational. I still think they need to wake up as well, but maybe they just don’t have the tools

  7. Many of those on UC are working for low wages, they are doing what they can to help themselves. It is the better off that always complain, is it because they are not getting it also? They must not need it then. I do not claim UC myself but I still see a problem even more now for those relying on the extra £20 to give support, because of the energy prices rising 50% and National Insurance rising, but their income reducing, so it is like a double whammy for them.

    It would be nice to hear what our rich Tory MP’s for Thanet have to say on this. I expect by their silence they are both up for punishing the poor and needy just a little bit more!

  8. You need to change the voting system to MMP. Then you can rid yourselves of the Tory parasites. It takes a few years, but we did this in NZ.

    • And in the view of my kiwi colleagues , the country is slowly placing itself in thrall to the chinese. Lets give the new zealand flirtation with left wing politics 10 years and then judge how successful it is.

    • How Craig Mackinlay voted on Social Issues

      Voted against equal gay rights Show votes 0 votes for, 1 vote against, 1 absence, in 2019

      Voted against laws to promote equality and human rights Show votes 0 votes for, 6 votes against, 1 absence, between 2015–2019.

      Consistently voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
      Show votes
      23 votes for, 0 votes against, between 2015–2016.

      Consistently voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability Show votes 0 votes for, 8 votes against, between 2015–2016.

      Roger Gale

      Generally voted against laws to promote equality and human rights Show votes 2 votes for, 7 votes against, 8 absences, between 2011–2019

      Consistently voted against equal gay rights Show votes 0 votes for, 20 votes against, 9 absences, between 1999–2019.

      Generally voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices Show votes 0 votes for, 2 votes against, 3 absences, in 2013.

      Consistently voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability Show votes 0 votes for, 15 votes against, between 2011–2016

      Almost always voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
      Show votes 43 votes for, 0 votes against, 11 absences, between 2012–2016.

      Almost always voted against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed Show votes
      0 votes for, 8 votes against, 1 absence, between 2011–2014.

  9. Its also rarely mentioned that the gov also increased local housing allowance back to the 30th percentile. This meant that for many thanet uc recipients of the housing element that they no longer had to pay a top up on their rents. In some instances this was 100 a month. ( i had tenants who were effectively £180 a month better off due to the two measures) as against furloughed workers who lost 20% of their income.
    This remains its just the temporary uplift that’s being removed.
    A not untypical arrangement for couples in thanet, is one partner with kids registers for benefits gets the rent paid and all eligible benefits, then the partner who’s effectively unknown officially works cash in hand. Going rate for a labourer at the moment is 100 a day cash in hand, tradesmen are crying out for them common complaint though is that if they have money in their pocket they just don’t turn up. Theres loads of work out there. Filling the places left by the europeans that went home. But there’s so much easy money out there that people don’t want a real job.

  10. This is dreary. Once again the better off are blaming the poor for being poor. The same old tropes of they should tighten their belts, work harder, or stop complaining are trotted out, usually by middle class retirees on good pensions and a property portfolio.
    Here are a few things to consider:
    * Many UC claimants will be working poor, the just managing sort of person.
    *Gas, Electricity food, petrol and many other essentials are rising steeply.
    *Rents are rising steeply. Many claimants are spending 70% or more on rent, for insecure tenancies, where they can be booted out ,so that the landlord can gain tax free income via Air BnB.
    *You are expecting working age persons to pay for your social care, to avoid any of your off spring losing their inheritance.NI starts at £8,000,so the poorest will be funding the care of some of the wealthiest.
    *Some areas of work might be benefitting from a post covid bounce with higher wages, but this may not last, and in sectors such as social care, it will not be happening at all.
    *What I find most reprehensible is a landlord claiming that his tenants are better off by £150 a week. Where do you think this £150 goes? Gambling, booze, mobile phones? No. Try instead the landlord’s pocket. The state is not subsidising tenants, it is subsidising the landlord.
    I think a period of silence from the well breeched, would be welcome. We hear too much about their belly aches and not enough from those who society has not levelled up.
    These self opinionated, selfish, ratbags, will be the first to wave the flag and moan about immigration, and about charity beginning at home. Therefore, if patriotism means looking after our own, we should start right here, by setting an example, of simple Christian charity.

    • Why the assumption that everyone commenting is well-off? I certainly aren’t, and as pretty much everyone else here have used aliases, then you can’t possibly know anything about their circumstances.

    • Read what i actually wrote and not what you think i wrote. I said some tenants were 180 a month better off, 80 from the benefir uplift and 100 from no longer having to pay a top up on rent ( previously the local housing allowance was 550 and was then raised to 650).
      This reprehensible landlord reduced rents for his working tenants who were furloughed, they got paid 80% i asked for 80% rent for that period and didn’t ask for it to be made up after they returned to work.
      Rents are high because i expect a return on my investment, i’ve had to pay for 10 years of selective licensing that did nothing for my tenants, i keep my properties in good condition, legislation around for electrical systems needs to be paid for, (mty electrical systems were new installations less than 20 years ago. Improvements to energy efficiency both past and likely to be improved again need to be paid for.
      The private sector is not like the council housing where they pay no tax, get grant funding and the council tax payer covers the pensions and employment costs of the staff.
      Meet the prospective tenants that i do , listen the scams and incomes they have and perhaps your view might change.
      I had one tenancy where the family vacated having been given a council house, amongst the rubbish they left behind , bills from council for the 3 years of council tax they never paid and 1500 for the water Re are two sides to the benefits debate.

  11. Comments sections on news items such as this make me sad to be part of the same species as most of you.

    Why does it need to be a race to the bottom? If people have too little money for adequate food or heating, the cost is only pushed down the line to the NHS to pick up the pieces when malnutrition, respiratory illness and heart disease rear their heads as a result of poor living conditions. So the taxpayer still pays.

    Besides the above, what about the children born into poverty? How do any of you justify that? Even if the parents are lazy, work shy, gamblers, crack addicts or any other stereotype you care to perpetuate, why should the children suffer? Is it their fault they were born into poverty and misfortune? Is it their fault anymore than it is Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg’s fault they were born into extreme wealth and privilege?

    It is hard not to wish extreme misfortune on some of you commentators on here. Only then may you realise how dreadful and ill-informed your opinions truly are.

    • I WAS born into poverty (bread and dripping or sugar sandwiches were may main choice of lunch!), but I didn’t/don’t blame others for my former predicament – nor am I an inverted snob who is jealous of those born into wealth.

      • You’ve failed to answer the key point there, Peter. What about the children living in food and fuel poverty as a result of their parental situation? Should they suck it up and stop complaining?

        As for jealousy about being born into wealth, if you think it’s as simplistic as that, it’s no wonder we live in such inequality. The whole system is skewed in favour of the wealthy staying wealthy/getting wealthier at the expense of the poor staying poor/getting poorer. It isn’t the same as wishing a lottery winner well. The likes of JRM obtain wealthy by screwing the poor. If you’re happy with that, there’s really no helping…

        • I would never wish a lottery winner well, as I don’t approve of gambling… but I do wish those well who have worked hard to change their situation instead of just sitting there stomping their feet and saying “It’s not faiiirrrr!!!”.

          • And again, you’ve missed the point. Whether you approve of gambling or not is an irrelevance that you’ve thrown in to avoid answering the most basic of questions. Once again, for the wilfully ignorant, what about the poor children living in food / fuel poverty as a result of their parental situation? Should they suck it up and stop complaining?

          • I can’t recall ever complaining myself, but as I asked elsewhere, how many job vacancies are there in Thanet? Shops and cafes are even putting notes in windows asking for applicants (a situation I can’t recall in many years), Thanet Earth are forced to throw produce away, and if anyone has a clean driving licence they’re almost guaranteed a delivery job. Brexit and Covid haven’t been great for many, but when it comes to getting a job these are golden times.

      • Peter – you and I the same. I am back street child from 50’s living in two up two down terraced house with outside loo in Gillingham. I was moulded into the person I am today by parents who cared for me. I went to Grammar school because of efforts of my parents. My father was a dockyard matey and then school caretaker. A stable back ground and hard work being reward#, not waiting for state to keep you!!!

      • No one on here claiming to be a claimant is blaming anyone.
        On the contrary, it is very well off people (such as landlords) and others who’ve managed to cope: they are the ones who are blaming the poor for being poor.
        You might note that those signatories to the letter, include not only representatives of several political parties, but charities, community groups and leaders from churches and synagogues.
        It is not the case that people are swanning about in their luxury villas, planning their next cruise. Far too many claimants are hardworking family people, but because of dreadful working conditions (a minimum wage too low to actually live on, zero hours contracts etc) they don’t have enough money to both feed their children and heat their homes.
        Some pretty heartless comments on here.

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