MP SIOBHAN Baillie has responded after a Universal Credit petition was delivered to her office in Stroud.

This week, the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift - a temporary measure brought in to help people on lower incomes during the coronavirus pandemic - has officially been withdrawn.

Campaigners delivered the petition on Wednesday, asking the MP to back calls on the government to reverse the withdrawal and incorporate the £20 uplift permanently into Universal Credit.

As a result of the withdrawal, 6,169 people in the Stroud district will see their Universal Credit (UC) payments cut by £1,040 per year.

Almost 40 per cent of UC claimants are in work.

Charities have raised concerns that with furlough coming to an end last week, and with energy, food and petrol prices on the rise, the cut could have a devastating impact on families.

Stroud Labour leader Doina Cornell said: “Ministers like to pretend that this crisis won’t hit families hard but the truth is that those on Universal Credit will be down £220 by Christmas alone – that’s more than half the average family Christmas budget."

MP Siobhan Baillie has responded, highlighting a new £500 million winter hardship fund designed to provide support for the most vulnerable in the months to come.

She said: “It is a pity Labour hasn’t mentioned in the petition the substantial and targeted half a billion pounds the Government has set aside for English councils to use over the winter to help the most vulnerable following the end of the uplift.

"We have seen Labour vote against more money for the NHS and social care recently and its policy on Universal Credit is to scrap it without any information on how it would replace it.

"It must be remembered this uplift cost £6 billion a year, it is not targeted at the most vulnerable and it was always a temporary Covid measure alongside furlough and business grants and loans.

"I am working with other MPs in parliament on how to improve Universal Credit.

"This includes looking at adjusting taper relief – the amount where people start to lose the benefit when they are in work."

She added: “I would urge anyone who is struggling with food or bills to apply for this help as soon as possible."