Boris Johnson faces another backbench rebellion over the Treasury’s spending this autumn, as a high-profile Tory MP hit out at “intolerable” levels of hunger and poverty in his affluent home counties constituency, and urged ministers to abandon plans to cut universal credit.
Work and pensions minister, Thérèse Coffey, has confirmed that the pandemic universal credit uplift of £20 a week will be withdrawn as planned at the end of September.
Baker said retaining the £20 uplift “wasn’t enough” and that universal credit should be overhauled to remove the requirement that new claimants wait a minimum of five weeks for a first payment, a measure blamed for pushing people into debt.
Senior Conservative MPs have signalled that they oppose the cut, including six former work and pensions secretaries: Sir Iain Duncan Smith; Damian Green; Esther McVey; Stephen Crabb; David Gauke; and Amber Rudd.
Six Conservatives – including the chair of the education select committee, Rob Halfon – have rebelled on the issue after Labour forced a vote in January before the extension was announced.
Labour is looking to test Conservative support for the cuts again when parliament returns, including the possibility of forcing a vote, according to party sources.
One cabinet source said they expected opposition to grow in the autumn, but said there was “no appetite” from the Treasury for the uplift to continue.