What the £20 Universal Credit cut means for you, and what you can do

28th Jul 2021

In October 2021, the Government plans to cut £20 a week from Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit. What will this mean for you and what can you do about it? This page includes a template you can use to write to your MP, to urge the Government to keep the £20 lifeline.

Social security should be strong enough for all of us to rely on when we need a lifeline –because, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, life is full of things we can’t plan for.

But a cut of £20 a week to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit, scheduled for 6 October 2021, will mean the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since the modern welfare state began, more than 70 years ago.

What this cut will mean for you

If you receive Universal Credit, your payment will be reduced by £20 a week after 6 October.

If you receive Working Tax Credit:

  • Your payments will have already been reduced by an equivalent amount since April 2021.
  • You will have received a separate one-off payment of £500 in April to offset this loss until October. The plan is not to repeat this lump-sum payment in October.

Families on ‘legacy benefits’ have been excluded from the initial crucial improvement in support since March 2020. Find out more about what this means for you if you receive a legacy benefit such as Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support.

Get support and find out more with Turn2Us.

What you can do

Weakening social security by going ahead with this cut makes no sense at all as we look to rebuild our society. The Government still has a choice: instead of cutting this vital support by £20 a week and worsening the insecurity people face, it could – and should – keep this lifeline and help give families the stability we all need.

We are encouraging everyone – people receiving benefits, supporters and community leaders – to write to their MP to ask them to speak out against this cut, share their concerns about this injustice, and tell them about the likely impact in their community.  

Tell your MP why the Government must make the right choice this autumn:

  • Choose to protect people when they need support, not cut them adrift.
  • Choose a social security system that enables families to escape from poverty.
  • Choose to open up options and opportunities for people to improve their lives.
  • Keep the lifeline.

How to write to your MP

  1. Use the template below to write a personalised email to your MP.
  2. Go to https://www.writetothem.com/ and enter your postcode. Scroll down to find ‘Your MP’ and click on their name.
  3. Copy and paste the letter you’ve drafted.
  4. Follow the instructions on the website to send your letter.

Tips for sharing your experience

If you claim Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit, let your MP know what impact a £20 cut would have on you and your family. It is vital that MPs understand the real lives behind this policy in their constituency. They will want to hear how their decisions are affecting people's level of debt or affecting your ability to pay rent or bills. They will want to know if their choices have affected your children's or your family's health. Include your experience of these things if you feel comfortable.

Consider the following questions when writing your message:

  • What does your household look like? Do you have children?
  • How long have you been receiving this benefit? Are you working or unemployed? How has the pandemic impacted you?
  • Are you managing to afford the rent, other bills and essentials?
  • What are your concerns about the future? What will happen if you do not have this £20 from October?

Include how benefits support you in normal times, not just during the challenges of the pandemic. We want to show MPs that social security is a vital public service that needs to meet people’s needs always, not just in a pandemic.

Do remember to be polite – even when it is tempting not to be. They are human and we want them to support the cause!

Template for writing to your MP

Dear XXXX MP

As someone in your constituency who claims Universal Credit/Working Tax Credit, I am writing regarding the upcoming £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit scheduled for the beginning of October.

[Let your MP know your family situation. For example: ‘I am a mother of two children, aged 1 and 3.’]

Social security should be a lifeline for families like mine, giving stability and security. I am very worried about the impact this cut will have on my finances and on our community.
[Add here what impact the £20 cut might have on your ability to meet your bills or other costs].

I am hoping that, as my MP, you will raise these concerns about the impact of this cut on our constituency in parliament, as well as writing to the Chancellor and Ministers.

It cannot be right for the Government to take away £20 a week from the precarious incomes of families like mine. Instead, it should keep it, and help us keep our heads above water.

Kind regards,