A dozen top professors have demanded cruel cuts to children's Universal Credit are axed in the Budget.
The social policy experts say the two-child limit – which has hit more than 592,000 kids in 157,000 families since it launched in 2017 – is driving children to poverty and food banks.
They also demand a cut to the five-week wait for Universal Credit in the March 11 Budget – warning the move could "help thousands of people now" and urging the Tories not to "stand by".
Twenty-three social policy university academics, 12 of whom are professors including from York, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Birmingham and Warwick, have written to Boris Johnson and new Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Their letter is also backed by 78 Labour MPs, the Unison, Unite, Usdaw and GMB unions, and local branches of foodbanks and Citizens Advice.
Wirral South MP Alison McGovern, who organised the 'Making Ends Meet' campaign, said: "The Tories have overseen a massive increase in food poverty over the past decade.
"Yet Boris Johnson said he wants the UK to be the greatest country on earth.
"He has the chance to lift kids out of poverty at the Budget in three weeks' time – it's time the Conservatives did the right thing by ending the two-child limit and reducing waiting times for Universal Credit."
Since April 2017 families can only claim the child element of UC – £232 a month – for their first two children.
Despite an extension to children born before 2017 being called off, the policy has hit the benefits of 157,000 families containing 592,000 children in its first two years.
Scrapping the two-child limit would cost £2billion per year in the long run.
That is the same amount the Tories will spend raising the National Insurance threshold from £8,788 to £9,500 this April – a move the IFS think tank says will mainly help middle and higher earners.
And it is just a quarter of the £8bn-a-year Boris Johnson pledged in his leadership campaign to spend on income tax for £50,000 earners – a plan he later shelved.
Meanwhile MPs and charities have demanded the five-week wait for families' first Universal Credit payment is cut. It was reduced from six weeks in 2018, but thousands are taking out advances against their own benefits to pay basic bills.
The letter warns more than a third of emergency food bank parcels go to children.
It tells the Chancellor: "It is a basic minimum that everyone in our country should be able to feed themselves without needing emergency food parcels.
"But since 2010, foodbank use has grown in the UK. Demand is rising every year.
"According to the Trussell Trust, low income, benefit delays and changes are the main reasons people need emergency food. Often, households using foodbanks have only £50 a week after paying rent."
It adds: "We want to see a credible plan to end the need for foodbanks in the Budget.
"The need for long-term change is not an excuse for standing by whilst the problem continues to get worse due to Government policy."
A DWP spokesman said: “With Universal Credit nobody has to wait five weeks to receive money and people can get paid urgently if they need it.
“The two child policy ensures fairness by asking all adults to make the same financial choices about having children.”
Dear Prime Minister and Chancellor,
Making Ends Meet: please give us a Budget to end the need for foodbanks
It is a basic minimum that everyone in our country should be able to feed themselves without needing emergency food parcels. But since 2010, foodbank use has grown in the UK. Demand is rising every year. According to the Trussell Trust, low income, benefit delays and changes are the main reasons people need emergency food. Often, households using foodbanks have only £50 a week after paying rent.
More than a third of emergency food parcels go to children and the Government should be doing more to help them and their families.
We want to see a credible plan to end the need for foodbanks in the Budget on 11 March 2020. Practical and affordable measures – such as the ones in my report – could make a real difference.
1. Removing the two-child limit in Universal Credit
2. Reducing the waiting time for Universal Credit
Longer-term labour market changes to ensure parents and carers are supported at work as well as improvements to our mental health system are also required but these two first steps are essential and could help thousands of people now.
The need for long-term change is not an excuse for standing by whilst the problem continues to get worse due to Government policy. The Budget on 11 March will be a test of whether the British people can trust the Government to change the country for the better. We urge the Government to use the Budget to help people make ends meet.
Alison McGovern MP
Rushanara Ali MP
Rosena Allin-Khan MP
Mike Amesbury MP
Tonia Antoniazzi MP
Apsana Begum MP
Hilary Benn MP
Paul Blomfield MP
Tracy Brabin MP
Ben Bradshaw MP
Karen Buck MP
Ian Byrne MP
Ruth Cadbury MP
Sarah Champion MP
Feryal Clark MP
Yvette Cooper MP
Rosie Cooper MP
Neil Coyle MP
Stella Creasy MP
Janet Daby MP
Alex Davies-Jones MP
Marsha De Cordova MP
Tan Dhesi MP
Anneliese Dodds MP
Rosie Duffield MP
Maria Eagle MP
Angela Eagle MP
Julie Elliott MP
Florence Eshalomi MP
Yvonne Fovargue MP
Mary Foy MP
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Kate Green MP
Lilian Greenwood MP
Carolyn Harris MP
Helen Hayes MP
Margaret Hodge MP
Sharon Hodgson MP
George Howarth MP
Rupa Huq MP
Diana Johnson MP
Sarah Jones MP
Ruth Jones MP
Gerald Jones MP
Liz Kendall MP
Afzal Khan MP
Stephen Kinnock MP
Peter Kyle MP
Emma Lewell-Buck MP
Justin Madders MP
Khalid Mahmood MP
Seema Malhotra MP
Rachael MasKell MP
Chris Matheson MP
Catherine McKinnell MP
Anna McMorrin MP
Jessica Morden MP
Ian Murray MP
Charlotte Nichols MP
Abena Oppong-Asare MP
Sarah Owen MP
Matthew Pennycook MP
Jess Phillips MP
Bridget Phillipson MP
Yasmin Qureshi MP
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP
Virendra Sharma MP
Tulip Siddiq MP
Jeff Smith MP
Alex Sobel MP
Jo Stevens MP
Wes Streeting MP
Gareth Thomas MP
Karl Turner MP
Derek Twigg MP
Claudia Webbe MP
Catherine West MP
Nadia Whittome MP
Mohammad Yasin MP
Dave Prentis, General Secretary, Unison
Diana Holland, Assistant General Secretary, Unite
Paddy Lillis, General Secretary, USDAW
Neil Smith, North West Political Officer, GMB
Cllr David Baines, Leader, St Helens Council
Cllr Graham Whitham, Trafford Council
Cllr Ann O’Byrne, Liverpool City Council
Dr Lorenza Antonucci, Department of Social Policy, University of Birmingham
Professor Karen Rowlingson, Department of Social Policy, University of Birmingham
Dr Jo Ingold, Associate Professor, University of Leeds
Dr Kitty Stewart, Associate Professor, London School of Economics
Dr Derek Kirton, Social Policy and Social Work, University of Kent
Professor Peter Dwyer, Social Policy, University of York
Dr Claire Thompson, University of Hertfordshire
Professor Wendy Wills, food and public health, University of Hertfordshire
Professor Alan Deacon, Social Policy, University of Leeds
Professor Caroline Glendinning, social policy, University of York
Professor John Veit-Wilson, Sociology, Newcastle University
Professor Adrian Sinfield, Social Policy, University of Edinburgh
Dr Gideon Calder, Sociology and Social Policy, Swansea University
Dr Dave Beck, Social Policy, University of Salford
Dr Mark Wilding, Social and Public Policy, University of Salford
Dr Katy Jones, Senior Research Associate, Manchester Metropolitan University
Professor Sara Ashencaen Crabtree, social and cultural diversity, Bournemouth University
Professor Jonathan Parker, Society and Social Welfare, Bournemouth University
Peter Taylor Gooby, Social Policy, University of Kent
Professor Liz Dowler, food and social policy, University of Warwick
Professor Lisa Scullion, University of Salford
Pete Ritchie, Executive Director, Nourish Scotland
Joyce Leggate, Chair, Kirkcaldy Foodbanks
Chelsea Marshall, Senior Project Officer, Nourish Scotland
Frank Hont, Chair of Trustee Board, Citizens Advice Liverpool
Pauline Buchan, Kirkcaldy Cottage Family Centre
Professor Fiona Williams, school of sociology and social policy University of Leeds
Dr Margaret May, Senior Research Fellow, Birmingham University
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