The former Tory minister opposed the abolition of the £ 20 a week increase, saying “it is what it is”.
Robert Jenrick, who was fired from cabinet in the prime minister’s recent reshuffle, said the universal loan timing was “unfortunate” as it coincided with “a serious cost of living challenge” for hundreds of thousands of British households.
The MP’s comments were heavily criticized by Tory backbencher Andrew Bridgen, who urged Mr. Jenrick to “be more sensitive”.
In the past few months, households have been hit by a surge in inflation, rising household bills amid the energy crisis, and impending tax hikes.
In a speech on BBC Radio 4’s World at One program, the former Housing Secretary said he understood why the £ 20-a-week increase had to end, but opposed the biggest overnight benefit cut in the UK, saying: “It is what it is.”
“I understand why the government had to do this, I think you had to stop at some point,” said Mr Jenrick.
“The timing now is unfortunate, I believe, because it is just as we are facing a serious cost of living challenge for hundreds of thousands of households across the country.
“But that’s it.”
The former minister also announced that the Chancellor’s £ 500 million discretionary fund, used by local authorities to help troubled families, could be injected with more money if needed.
“We need to make sure that the local councils use this wisely, and it needs to target the families who are really at risk of becoming homeless,” he said.
“We will have to see if the money is enough, it can always be topped up if it is not enough.”
But Mr Bridgen said the comments were tasteless and said so I: “I think those of us lucky enough not to need Universal Credit need to be a little more sensitive when making comments about it.
“For low income households, taking £ 80 a month is, well, maybe that’s what it is, but it’s extremely important.
“I thought Robert would be a better politician.”
He also pointed out that the $ 500 million funding would help
Joseph Silke, Communications Manager at Tory Think Tank Bright Blue, also hit and told Mr. Jenrick I: “The timing is more than unfortunate, and Mr. Jenrick has seen exactly why: Thousands of households face a brutal leveling off this winter due to the removal of uplift.
“This was a government decision that could have been avoided, and 500 million six months.”
The universal loan cut went into effect on October 6th, causing applicants to lose £ 1,040 each year.
Sara Willcocks, Head of External Affairs at Turn2us, said that I Many families will no longer be able to pay their household bills due to the cut in benefits.
“Our research shows that one in two people with universal credit now has trouble paying their bills,” she said.
“There can be no justification for a person’s income to decrease to cover their basic expenses.”
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), which works to fight poverty, has warned that the cut will plunge half a million more people into poverty, including 200,000 children.
However, Mr Jenrick tried to defend the cut, pointing out that the Chancellor recently unveiled a £ 500 million discretionary fund for local councils that could be injected with more money if needed.