North Tyneside Council has voted to push the Government to reverse a “cruel and barbaric” benefits cut.

Cash-strapped local families are set to lose the temporary £20 extra a month that was added to Universal Credit during the coronavirus pandemic.

As things stand this cut kicks into payments between October 13 and November 12.

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But, elected mayor Norma Redfearn is set to write to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions asking them to reconsider these changes, after a motion from Labour councillor Hannah Johnson was voted through on Thursday night.

At a full council meeting, the Chirton councillor spoke of how the cut would impact thousands of people in her ward.

She said: “Chirton is the ward I represent, there are over 2,100 people that claim Universal Credit, of which, 750 are in work.

“We’re not talking about people here who are lazy, not looking for work, that kind of thing. We’re talking about people who are in work.

“Combined with the pandemic, inflation and incomes not rising. People are already struggling to afford the basics like heating and food.

“I’m a teacher, some of the kids at school, losing out on that £20 a week, not being able to afford things like clothes and food when they go home.

“It has already been an incredibly chaotic process bringing in the Universal Credit, decreasing it is a step too far.

“For me I would say its not morally defensible to do this and its not about working more – these are people who are in work.”

She was backed by her Labour colleague Coun Andy Newman, who condemned the cuts.

The Northumberland ward councillor said: “I have said many times about my childhood growing up in poverty.

“And I see the Government’s attempt to remove the £20 uplift as just cruel and barbaric.

“Just recently energy prices have spiralled, family budgets are being squeezed.

“For many this winter is going to be incredibly difficult.

“I fail to see personally how any politician, national or local, with any sense of decency and compassion could agree with the Government’s decision to remove the £20 uplift.”

Conservative Coun Liam Bones, who represents Preston, disagreed, saying that the uplift was a blanket measure not targeted at those most in need.

He added: “Universal Credit is a tailored, progressive form of welfare being applauded internationally for that progressive nature.

“It targets help at those who need it the most. The uplift throughout the pandemic was a blanket approach to that help, that money was not targeted at those people who needed it the most.”

Weeks after cutting Universal Credit by £20, Tory ministers have launched private talks about raising the payment for 2.3 million claimants.

On Thursday the Mirror reported there are “live discussions” inside the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about changing the “taper rate” to let working families keep more money.

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