Photo by Keith Blundy

The Bishops of Durham and Jarrow are among 14 senior North East church and faith leaders to call on the Government to make the £20 uplift in Universal Credit permanent.

In an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, and the Rt Revd Sarah Clark, Bishop of Jarrow, have appealed to Rishi Sunak to reverse his decision to cut Universal Credit by £20 per week.

In response to the pandemic, the Government ‘temporarily’ increased Universal Credit by £20 in April 2020, and extended the uplift by six months in the 2021 spring Budget. The Chancellor is moving forward with plans to end the uplift in October.

Bishop Paul and the other signatories of the open letter have joined a growing coalition of secular and faith groups urging the Government to reconsider.

The letter reads:

“Dear Chancellor,

“The past 18 months have been the most challenging our nation has faced since the end of World War II. As Chancellor you have had to confront deep challenges. We recognise that you have made some very tough decisions and thank you for the work done on the furlough scheme and the £20 uplift in Universal Credit. Both have been hugely significant in helping the nation through the pandemic.

“In relation to Universal Credit we are deeply concerned at the impact the proposal to now cut the £20 uplift will have on the poorest in our nation. This will come at the very point when the furlough scheme ends. It will also coincide with significant increased costs for electricity and gas just when the weather begins to turn. We note that this concern has been expressed widely by all organisations who work with the poorest, and those who monitor the impact of such policies on them. As Church Leaders in the North East we are aware through our churches on the ground serving communities of the continuing struggles faced by large numbers of families. Many of these are not unemployed but in low paid work and need the additional income provided by Universal Credit. We accept that this is a major cost to the nation as a whole but believe that those in most need must be protected by the nation. We urge you to make the £20 uplift permanent to ensure that UC really does achieve its purpose.”

Signatories to the letter:

  • The Right Reverend Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham
  • The Right Reverend Christine Hardman, Bishop of Newcastle
  • The Right Reverend Paul Ferguson, Bishop of Whitby
  • The Right Reverend Sarah Clark, Bishop of Jarrow
  • The Right Reverend Mark Wroe, Bishop of Berwick
  • The Right Reverend Terence Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough and Chair of CSAN
  • The Right Reverend Robert Byrne, Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle
  • Doctor Mark Bonnington, Independent Churches Representative
  • Reverend John Claydon, Regional Minister, Northern Baptist Association
  • Reverend Richard Andrew, Chair, Darlington Methodist District
  • Reverend Stephen Lindridge, Chair, Newcastle upon Tyne Methodist District
  • Reverend Dave Herbert, Moderator, Northern Synod of the United Reformed Church
  • Major David Burns, Divisional Commander, Salvation Army
  • Reverend Paul Revill, Regional Minister, Northern Baptist Association

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