Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced today that the Universal Credit taper rate is to be cut by 8%.
Mr Sunak confirmed that the taper rate – the amount of Universal Credit that gets withdrawn for every pound that a claimant earns through work – will be slashed from 63p to 55p on the pound, in an announcement to MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon..
In what was one of the final points addressed as he unveiled the 2021 Autumn Budget and Spending Review, Mr Sunak said that he wants to live in a society that “rewards work”.
In real terms, it means that £2bn pounds a year is being put back into Universal Credit following the £6bn lost by claimants following the end of the weekly £20 uplift.
He said that the cut to the taper rate “takes a first step” towards that vision.
However, the taper rate changes will only increase the income of those Universal Credit claimants that are currently in work.
Still, with 40% of claimants also working in jobs at least part-time, the Chancellor’s announcement does mean that many will be able to keep more of their benefits.
The changes will be introduced this year, no later than 1 December 2021.
It’s a tax cut next year worth over £2bn, he says, that will “benefit nearly two million families who will keep, on average, an extra £1,000 a year”.
It is the first change made to the Universal Credit taper rate in five years.
Taking to Twitter following the Autumn Budget 2021 announcement to explain the cut to the taper rate in a series of tweets, Mr Sunak said: “We are cutting the Universal Credit Taper Rate not by 1%, not by 2% – but by 8%. From 63p to 55p.
“The Taper Rate withdraws support gradually as people work more hours. It is currently 63%, so for every extra £1 someone earns, their Universal Credit is reduced by 63p. Let’s call this what it is: a tax on work – and a high rate of tax at that – so to make sure work pays, and help some of the lowest income families keep more of their hard-earned money, I have decided that the UC Taper Rate will be cut, not by 1p or even 2p – but by 8p.
“This is a tax on working people – and I’m cutting it from 63p to 55p.”
He then added: “I’m also increasing the Work Allowances by £500, this is a tax cut next year of £2.2 billion, so nearly 2 million families will keep, on average, an extra £1,000 a year.
“We’ll introduce not in April as normal but within weeks, and no later than December 1st.”
Mr Sunak claimed during his announcement that a single mother of two could be better off by around £1,200 a year, while a couple renting a home with two children could be better off by around £1,800.
You can find more the 2021 Autumn Budget in full on the gov.uk website here.
Work to make Stevenson Square ‘more pedestrian and cyclist friendly’ begins next week
Improvement works to make Stevenson Square more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists is to finally begin next week.
After it was confirmed back in 2022 that the majority of the Northern Quarter square would remain pedestrianised following a trial that proved successful during the COVID pandemic, Manchester City Council has now revealed that contractors will begin work on the site to bring “a range of improvements to the area” from next week.
Work is to officially begin on Monday 5 June, and is expected to continue right through until October.
Councillors says it’s been their ambition for several years to carry out travel improvement works in Stevenson Square to not only “improve the amenity of the area”, but also implement changes that will “encourage a greater degree of walking and cycling”.
Some of the scheduled works include new pedestrian crossings at the junctions of Hilton and Oldham Street, Hilton and Newton Street, and Lever Street and Stevenson Square, as well as new tactile paving, the removal of pay and display bays, and the introduction of static blocks to help regulate vehicle access to the area.
There also be a new two-way cycleway running through Stevenson Square itself, and plenty of additional seating added to the ever-popular social hub.
Work in Stevenson Square forms the second section of the Northern Quarter Walking and Cycling Scheme, and is all part of Manchester City Council’s new wider ‘Active Travel’ strategy to put walking and cycling “at the heart of transport policy” and work towards making Manchester a zero-carbon city.
The Council says work is progressing well to create a joined-up network that runs between Piccadilly and Victoria Railway Stations.
Councillor Tracey Rawlins, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Manchester City Council, says that the work taking place over the coming months “will help make this area a more vibrant and accessible part of Manchester.”
Featured Image – TfGM
Greater Manchester customers slam Sainsbury’s policy that makes them ‘feel like thieves’
Customers at a number of Sainsbury’s stores in Greater Manchester have been left fuming as the result of a policy requiring receipts to be scanned before they can exit
Upon leaving stores, shoppers at Sainsbury’s supermarkets in Fallowfield and Salford are being confronted with automated barriers that can only be opened by scanning their receipt – or by contacting a store assistant.
Many have taken to Reddit to slam the new policy, with several claiming it is a ‘pointless waste of money and time’ and others saying they have been left ‘feeling like thieves’.
The receipt barriers, some shoppers say, only ‘makes life harder’ – yet it appears that Sainsbury’s is planning to roll them out at other stores across the UK too, following on from the introduction of cameras at its self-service stations in recent years.
The move by the supermarket echoes similar moves by the American supermarket Walmart, which is notorious for staff approaching ‘random’ customers at its exits and asking them to produce their receipts as they leave stores.
A series of recent posts on Reddit exposes several threads in which users commented on the introduction of the receipt barriers, both here in Greater Manchester as well as further afield.
The social media site reveals that stores in Fallowfield and Salford have both become unpopular since they started adopting the policy, which requires customers to scan receipts in order for them to exit.
If receipts are not scanned, barriers prevent customers from leaving until a store assistant is contacted.
One Reddit user has posted a picture of a notice in one of the Sainsbury’s store, reading: “We’ve introduced new barriers as you leave this store.”
“You’ll need to take your receipt and scan this on the barcode reader in front of the barriers.”
The original poster said they were ‘not a fan of how this is spreading’, leading other users on the site to agree.
Another person said the policy was a ‘pointless waste of money and time’ that ‘just makes everyone’s life harder, whilst another customer added: “Looks like Sainsbury’s can get f****d then.”
The installation of the barriers has left some customers “feeling like thieves” since their arrival last year but it appears that the supermarket has no plans to suspend the rollout, despite the backlash from shoppers.
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said that the barriers are “one of a range of security measures” installed in a “small number of stores” but would not disclose how many it has installed in the UK.