'Just not good enough' - Anger as Hartlepool MP abstains from Universal Credit vote
Labour councillors have hit out at Hartlepool's MP for abstaining on a Parliamentary vote on changes to Universal Credit.
Conservative MP Jill Mortimer defended the move, however, adding that the £20 uplift, which is due to be removed, was always said to be temporary, and would cost taxpayers “over £6 billion in extra taxation” if made permanent.
A Labour motion, which was debated by the House of Commons on Wednesday, sought to block the proposed removal of the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit.
It passed by 253 votes to 0.
Yet, since the vote was non-binding, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be able to push ahead with the move.
In Hartlepool, the uplift’s removal will affect 13,746 people, according to Department for Work and Pensions figures.
Labour’s Cllr Amy Prince, Throston ward representative, said: “As a recipient of Universal Credit this cut will hit me and thousands of Hartlepool residents hard.
“I am sure that £20 is not very much to Mrs Mortimer, but it makes a massive difference to so many people in our town.
“As we approach winter it could literally be the difference between heating and eating.”
Labour colleague Cllr Rachel Creevy, De Bruce ward representative, added it was “just not good enough” from Hartlepool’s MP.
She said: “This cut increases poverty and damages our local economy. If she is standing up for us, then she should be squarely against this cut.”
In response, Hartlepool’s MP stressed the removal of the uplift is not a “cut”.
She said: “The Government initiated a number of financial support measures to help people through the Covid 19 pandemic.
“The £20 a week was an extra grant paid out to people on Universal Credit as part of these temporary measures, to support them through an unprecedented period of time.
“We are now through that period and therefore returning to the normal payment level. A ‘cut’ suggests a saving to the Treasury, however there is no saving.”
She added the best way to assist people with finances is through work, adding: “I want to concentrate on lobbying the Government to invest in high skilled, well-paid jobs for the people of Hartlepool.
“Therefore, along with my fellow Conservative colleagues I abstained from this vote on Universal Credit because it was about political game playing by Labour.”