By Rory Weal, Policy and Public Affairs Manager
September is here, and as the kids go back to school and MPs return from their summer recess, the government has a big decision hurtling down the tracks: will they stick to their guns and cut Universal Credit by £20 a week this October, or keep this vital lifeline and keep people afloat?
Food banks across the Trussell Trust network know just how vital the extra £20 on Universal Credit has been. It could be the difference between people being able to get by or cut back on vital essentials, like food, clothing and heating. Removing it risks plunging tens of thousands into destitution. That’s why the Trussell Trust is supporting the Keep the Lifeline campaign, and asking you to write to your MP.
But we also know that for some people it isn’t clear what exactly the point of writing to their MP is. It can feel daunting or confusing for some, while for others they might not believe it will make a difference. But it can make a real positive impact on people’s lives. Here’s how:
Why should I be writing to my MP to ask them to keep the lifeline?
Put simply, the more MPs who speak out against the cut will be the difference between whether or not the government U-turns or pushes ahead. And that decision will have an enormous impact on millions of households.
While there won’t be a vote in Parliament – the cut is a spending decision already made by the Treasury – if enough MPs oppose the cut, the government will rethink its plans.
Conservative MPs are especially important because the government is accountable to its own MPs, and reliant on their votes to stay in office and pass legislation. As a result these MPs have significant power to influence government policy. Of course, the additional pressure from the opposition parties will also help to secure this outcome, and build pressure, attention and support behind keeping the lifeline.
But I am just one person, what difference can I make?
It’s easy to feel like a small action you take might not be felt, but your support for a campaign and contacting your MP has the power to make a difference.
For starters, you have power as a constituent. Your MP is elected by constituents and is in post to represent them. No matter which party they are from, MPs are there to hold the government to account and you, in turn, can hold your MP to account. It is a powerful position to be in.
Not only do you have the right to call, email and visit your MP, they often want to hear from you.
Lots of small actions add up to bigger ones and that means lots of us doing the same thing, taking the same action, collectively speaking as one, can create change. We have power in our partnership, so don’t underestimate what your one, individual action has the potential to add up to.
Ok, I’m feeling fired up! What can I do next?
If you haven’t already, email your MP and help us stop the cut to Universal Credit. There are lots of opportunities in Parliament for MPs to raise the issue in the next couple of weeks, so this is a great time to email them and secure their support.
If you’ve done that already, think about who you know who might support the campaign and tell them about it. Why not set yourself a challenge to tell 5 or 10 friends? Ask them to email their MPs.
Share this blog on your social media channels. If you have been wondering why you should write to your MP, chances are your network has wondered too!
Next week we will be releasing some new findings on the impact that the cut will have on people, including on their ability to afford food and other essentials. Keep an eye out and be sure to spread the word and help us build the pressure, and ensure the government makes the right decision to keep the lifeline. Time is ticking.