More than 5,000 families in Wimbledon and over 12,000 in Mitcham and Morden are set to lose over £1000 as Conservative government plans “heartless” Universal Credit cut
One in ten Wimbledon families* and over a quarter of families in Mitcham and Morden* are set to lose £1,040 a year at the end of the month as a result of Conservative plans to end the Universal Credit uplift.
Despite opposition from the Liberal Democrats, who have warned that half a million families – and 200,000 children – will be pushed into poverty, the Conservative government plans to proceed with a £20 a week cut to Universal Credit on October 6.
The move has been branded “heartless” by Cllr Paul Kohler, the Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson for Wimbledon.
“This cut is the difference for many between being able to feed your children and seeing them go hungry”, said Cllr Kohler. “It is heart-breaking, after everything people in Wimbledon have been put through during the pandemic, that so many families here in Wimbledon will be forced into such a desperate situation as a result of the Conservatives’ callousness and incompetence.
“This heartless cut is yet another example of the Conservatives’ inability to understand the pressure ordinary people in Wimbledon are under, and yet another example of their willingness to wrench away a vital lifeline at a time when families can least afford it.
“The government must reverse this cut. I and the Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign to make the Universal Credit uplift permanent, and to ensure that all people in Wimbledon have the financial security to look after their families and live their lives.”
Liberal Democrats are planning to fight the cut in Parliament to prevent it coming into effect.
“Just as we begin to hope that Covid is being tamed in the UK, the Government is ripping support from millions of families across the country”, said the Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain MP. “We cannot have a full recovery if families are struggling to make ends meet.
“The Prime Minister's claim that he wants people to live by their own ‘efforts’ rather than ‘welfare’ shows how out of touch he really is. With almost half of those receiving Universal Credit already in work and with many having young families, this cut will leave parents and their children behind despite their efforts.”
* Figures from Joseph Rowntree Foundation analysis, available here.
Labour Council bosses have refused to end financial support to the fossil fuel industry through Merton’s pension fund.
At last night's full council meeting, Liberal Democrat councillors proposed that the Council’s pension fund committee be asked to divest from fossil fuel companies within the next 3 years. Instead Labour councillors backed the status quo: slow changes, only moving out of fossil fuels by 2050.
Cllr Simon McGrath said “Merton Council should stand by their Climate Emergency Declaration and divest their pensions from fossil fuels sooner rather than later, following the IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming with warnings of flooding and overheating. We need to act now and commit to a rapid exit from all fossil fuel investments”.
Climate change champion Lib Dem Cllr Jenifer Gould added “pouring petrol on the flames of climate change needs to stop, the money invested now will affect the lives of generations to come and further decrease the chances of remaining below the 1.5 degree Celsius ambition of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The Council needs to invest in a cleaner, greener economy.
“With the next annual UN climate change conference in November, the Government is lacking in climate leadership failing on its commitments to invest sustainably and refusing to ban new oil and gas exploration licences”.
At the full Merton council meeting on 15th September Merton Lib Dems will be asking the council to live up to its obligations after its Climate Emergency declaration and divest its pension investments from supporting fossil fuels.
While the eastbound platform at Haydons road station can be accessed without using steps, the westbound platform can't. This is problematic for many residents - especially the elderly, people with disabilities or limited mobility, and families. When planning permission was granted for the development at 1 Caxton road, one of the conditions was that step free access to the platform would be granted via the development. However, while the developer is happy to implement this change, no progress has been made due to Govia Thameslink refusing to allow the works to start.
The work needed to enable step free access in both directions at Haydons Road station is minimal, and it would enable more residents to use public transport.
We're calling on Govia Thameslink to immediately allow this work to go ahead.
Wimbledon's Liberal Democrats have slammed local Conservative MP Stephen Hammond’s choice to break their promise to the electorate and vote for a 1.25% rise in National Insurance.
The changes, which go against the Conservatives’ manifesto promise not to raise taxes, will mean hard-pressed local families and small businesses will be left paying hundreds of pounds more in tax each year.
Stephen Hammond was one of the 317 Conservative MPs to support the plans. Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the government plans, arguing that they fail to fix the ongoing social care crisis and will fall disproportionately on the young, the low paid and small businesses.
The Liberal Democrats are calling for a cross-party agreement on social care, to find a long-term solution to funding high-quality care for everyone who needs it.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Councillor Paul Kohler said:
“Stephen Hammond stood on a clear promise at the last election not to raise taxes, including National Insurance. Now they have voted to break that promise by hitting hard-pressed families and small businesses in Wimbledon with a tax hike at a time many are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic.
“The people of Wimbledon deserve better than this. They need an MP who they can trust and who will fight for a fairer deal for our area.
“Unlike Stephen Hammond, the Liberal Democrats opposed these unjust plans in Parliament. We have been clear about how to fix the social care crisis in a fairer way, instead of hiking taxes on those who can least afford it.”
Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP added:
“The Tories have gone from being the party of low tax to the party of broken promises.
“Conservative MPs have shown that they can’t be trusted and are taking people for granted. It’s little wonder that voters around the country and across the Blue Wall are turning to the Liberal Democrats instead.
“We want to see cross-party talks on how to fund social care in a fair and sustainable way, along with urgent action to fix the staffing crisis in care homes and give unpaid carers the recognition they deserve.”
South Western Railway has launched a consultation on its timetable from December 2022 which closes soon on 19th September.
With passenger levels forecasted not to return to pre-Covid levels in the near future, the train company is proposing reducing the frequency of its services. Notably they are proposing to reduce the service calling at Motspur Park station by 2 trains per hour off peak to a 4 trains per hour service from the current 6 per hour.
We find the development very concerning. Maintaining the current service level at Motspur Park is essential for our local community and to support environmentally sound transport options. Reducing train services will lead we feel to increases in car journeys which could otherwise be done by train.
Merton Lib Dems will be responding to the consultation outlining our strong concerns and we urge residents opposed to sign our petition.
You can watch Cllr Hina Bokhari and John Oliver outline the changes here -
Merton Liberal Democrat Councillors convinced Labour council bosses to set up a Tenant's Champion scheme to give local renters more information and support.
According to a survey of Raynes Park residents, 91% use the station to travel towards Waterloo, where there is a ramp up to the platform. Presumably these 91% of people want to come back!
Matthew Willis, Lib Dem campaigner in Raynes Park and the rest of the Merton Lib Dem team continue to push for accessibility to be improved on platforms 3 and 4 where there is still no step-free access to leave the station.
Survey respondents reported having to turn down work in London due to the issue and it is clear we cannot wait on a decision on Crossrail 2 before improvements are made.
63.6% of respondents say they would use Raynes Park station more if there was step-free access, adding to the traffic on Worple Road as many are currently forced to alight at Wimbledon, increasing demand on local bus and taxi services.
The wide and dangerous gaps on platforms 1 and 4 will remain an issue even if step-free access is provided so we are exploring other options with stakeholders. This includes proposals to move the platforms closer to the Wimbledon end of town and to see if plans to improve the station can be implemented independent of a final decision on Crossrail 2.
A successful petition to restore the newly discovered mosaic signage at the Wimbledon Chase Co-op was run by the local Liberal Democrats in Merton.