Bishops call for Universal Credit ‘lifeline’ to remain

First published on: 17th August 2021

The Bishops of Newcastle and Berwick are among 14 senior North East church 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 Christine Hardman, Bishop of Newcastle, and the Rt Revd Mark Wroe, Bishop of Berwick, have appealed to Rishi Sunak to reverse his decision to cut Universal Credit by £20 per week from October 2021.

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.”

Signed by:

  • 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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