Milton Keynes Labour Party has criticised the city’s two Conservative MPs for their failure to back a vote in the House of Commons calling for a proposed cut to Universal Credit to be scrapped.

Both Conservative MPs for Milton Keynes abstained, which means they did not vote, in a debate where the Labour Party was calling on the government to extend an increase of £20 a week in Universal Credit, which is due to be cut at the end in March.

The vote in the House of Commons would not have forced the government to adopt the changes but it would have added to the pressure the government is under from charities and campaigners against poverty to make the increase a longer term measure to tackle poverty, particularly for those in work and struggling to make ends meet.

MK Labour have been particularly critical of our local Tory MPs as they voted against extending free school meals over the Christmas holidays at the end of last year stating that the issue should be addressed through the increase in Universal Credit. A campaign led by footballer Marcus Rashford forced the government into a humiliating U-turn on that issue just days after the vote.

Cllr Rob Middleton, Cabinet Member for Resources said: “Every day we see the impact on Covid-19 hitting our economy, and the burden is being felt by everyone. However, it is falling hardest on those who have the least. The Labour Party wanted MPs to send a strong message to the government that cutting Universal Credit would be wrong. Our local MK Conservative MPs failed the test.”

He continued: “The vote tonight was not binding. It was about doing the right thing. Last year our Tory MPs shamefully voted against extending free school meals to poorest children over Christmas. At the time they used the excuse that the uplift in Universal Credit was the solution to that problem. They had a chance in the House of Commons to show that if that is what they actually believe or if it was just a line for the press.  On free school meals their government left them looking like idiots when they u-turned within days, and I’m sure it will be the same again this time.”

Cllr Middleton concluded: “Most people in MK are not idiots. They know our MPs just do as they are told. It’s no secret that their personal ambition is ministerial office, not speaking up for MK. They had a chance tonight to simply send a message. More debt, more homelessness and more child poverty will mean more pressure on MK Council services which are already being pushed to the limit after a decade of Tory austerity. The government needs to reverse this proposed cut in Universal Credit and our city needs MPs that will stand up for the people of this city, not their careers.”

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