Analysis by Labour says hairdressers would have to work 509 hours a year, shelf stackers 499 hours and nurses 258 hours to make up for the Universal Credit £20-a-week cut
Image: Getty Images)
Hairdressers, pharmacy assistants and shelf stackers will need to work 500 extra hours per year to make up for the Tories’ Universal Credit cut, damning analysis shows.
A study by Labour blasts claims that families could simply work longer hours to cope with the £20-a-week reduction next month.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said people could work two extra hours on the £8.91 minimum wage for over-23s.
But many claimants’ benefits are “tapered away” as they earn – meaning they gain as little as £2.24 per hour after tax.
Using the example of a privately-renting single parent of two, Labour said hairdressers would have to work the most extra hours to make up for the cut – 509 hours a year at £8.28 an hour.
Pharmacy assistants would have to work 504 hours per year at £8.36 an hour, Labour said.
Shelf stackers would work 499 hours per year at £8.43 per hour.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “Telling people already struggling to take on more hours to pay for the Government’s tax rises and Universal Credit cut is an insult.
“One in 14 British workers will lose out from this cut including 660,000 of the key workers who got us through this crisis.”
Labour will force a symbolic vote tomorrow in Parliament over the £20-a-week cut, which is opposed by several Tory MPs.
Mr Reynolds urged “every MP to back struggling families and cancel this cut.”
Many Universal Credit claimants who earn more than £293-a-month have a “taper rate”, meaning every extra £1 they earn from work triggers a 63p reduction in their benefits.
Because of this, many minimum-wage claimants only gain £3.30 overall for each extra hour they work.
Once National Insurance, Income Tax and other contributions are deducted, they gain just £2.24, according to the Resolution Foundation.
That means they would have to work nine hours to take home an extra £20 – before arranging childcare, which UC funds up to 85% but has to be paid up front and claimed back later.
Mr Reynolds has vowed to reduce the taper rate lower than 63p if Labour win power.
Many other professions will have to work hundreds of hours extra per year to make up for the cut, Labour said.
Waiters would have to work 497 hours per year, shop cashiers 494 hours, teaching assistants 489 hours, care workers 439 hours, hospital porters 424 hours, nurses 258 hours and primary school teachers 238 hours.
Labour based its analysis on Office for National Statistics figures on annual full-time gross pay by occupation.
The government defended Ms Coffey’s claim that people could work two extra hours, claiming she was referring to people who were not yet subject to the taper rate due to earning less than the work allowance.
The Department for Work and Pensions said the analysis assumed the worst-hit people were earning, on average, less than the minimum wage for over-23s.
The DWP said a single parent on £10 per hour, eight hours per week who lives with his parents could earn £20 from two hours’ work, because he would be below the thresholds for Income Tax, National Insurance and the UC Work Allowance.
A government spokesperson said: “This analysis will not be accurate for most claimants.
“Universal Credit is a flexible system that supports people with varying circumstances, and incentivises work more generously than the legacy benefits system.”