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Universal credit

The Tories need to make a U-turn fast

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Labour’s “fifty shades of red” agree on almost nothing, says Clare Foges in The Times – but they all concur that the imminent removal of the £20-a-week uplift in universal credit “is a very bad decision”. And they’re right. The removal from 6 October “may sound trivial to we who spend that much on a round of chai lattes”. But the biggest reduction in basic social security since the Second World War will be felt in “countless domestic catastrophes and indignities”: worrying a child will smell at school because you can’t afford to wash their clothes; picking green bits out of bread; feeling the “throat-constricting anxiety” of putting one more thing on the credit card.

The Tories must perform a U-turn. Politicians fret too much about changing course, underestimating public respect for leaders who listen, respond and rethink in the light of new evidence. The energy crisis and soaring food prices offer ample reason to abort. And if the Conservative party’s task of detoxifying its image were a game of snakes and ladders, “this would be a giant green anaconda taking the government all the way from the top of the board back to square one”. More than a third of those on universal credit are in work. These are the van drivers, care workers and cleaners who politicians fall over themselves to slap on the back. How is this levelling up? It’s “not just morally wrong; it is a huge political error”.