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22 September, 2021 Open access

Government defeats Opposition Day motion calling for it to amend policies that have created an ‘avoidable and unacceptable’ burden on working people

Following the debate, that covered policies including the removal of the £20 universal credit 'uplift' and increased National Insurance contributions to pay for health and social care, the motion was defeated by 300 votes to 222

The government has defeated an Opposition Day motion that called for it to change a range of policies that have created ‘an avoidable and unacceptable' burden on working people.

The motion moved in the House of Commons yesterday set out the concerns of opposition MPs about the negative impact of government policies, and increasing costs of living, on the finances of working people and in particular highlighted -

'... a growing squeeze on living standards caused by the £1,040 per year reduction to universal credit, the rise in National Insurance Contributions for low and middle income workers, increases in council tax ... the fastest rise in private rental prices since 2008, successive above inflation increases in childcare costs, and rising prices resulting from the supply chain disruption ...'

As a result, the motion called for the government to -

'... change the direction of its policies on these issues because they have created an avoidable and unacceptable burden on working people.'

Introducing the debate on the motion, Labour MP Bridget Phillipson said -

'Conservative Members will have heard the same from their constituents as I have heard from mine, which is that life is getting tougher and they just cannot understand why, in the face of rising cost pressures, the government are putting up their taxes, cutting the support that is available and making life harder. My constituents simply cannot understand why the government are prepared to stand by and allow that to happen.'

However, closing the debate, Minister for Employment Mims Davies repeated the government's current messaging that extra benefit provision was always a temporary measure during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that support to 'harness work opportunities' through the government's packages of support under its Plan for Jobs is the way forward -

'The reality is that it is unsustainable to carry on spending the amount that we have been on welfare measures during this pandemic without ongoing increases in public expenditure ...

Now that public health restrictions have been relaxed, it is right that these temporary support measures come to an end ... We have been able to reopen society, and our economy is recovering strongly ... So it is a time to be bold and empower people to harness their opportunities and help them progress on to their next stage - to give people both the hope and the skills and training they need to thrive in this changing economy.'

Following the debate, the House voted against the motion by 300 votes to 222.

For more information, a transcript of the debate on Working People’s Finances: Government Policy is available from Hansard.