Boris Johnson’s planned cut to universal credit is a reminder of the bleak outlook for many Britons today

·4 min read

Your story about Boris Johnson’s planned removal of the £20 increase in universal credit reminds us of the bleak outlook for living standards for many people in need in the UK if the government does not act now.

During the coronavirus pandemic, people with cancer have experienced huge financial pressures, from the costs of travelling further for treatment to higher bills from living in isolation. These pressures often come at a time when people face reduced working hours or work stopping entirely following a diagnosis.

Even before the pandemic struck, we know that many people with cancer who rely on benefits were struggling to get by. Macmillan speaks to people with cancer day in and day out, and hears how people are worried about starting their cancer treatment because they just don’t know how they will pay their bills.

The action the government has taken to increase universal credit and support vulnerable people on low incomes during the pandemic has been a lifeline. However, this support should not be considered an emergency measure. Rather, the impact of Covid-19 has revealed the pressing need to enhance support for those who need it most. Those with cancer require immediate certainty that their incomes will be protected and are secure.

The government must act now and ensure that people struggling the most with the costs of cancer are not simply abandoned with an uncertain future.

Steven McIntosh

Director of policy, campaigns and influence at Macmillan Cancer Support

Another government farce

I read with interest reports about the vote on maintaining the universal credit uplift and I also watched some of the debate. It appeared to me that the single disingenuous mantra from the government and Conservative MPs (not all) was that it was a “political stunt” from the opposition and that was the end of it – notwithstanding the whole debacle of again trying to shut the gate once the horse has bolted. Also the incumbents of the red wall seats are indeed justifiably alarmed.

Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, was a calm and dignified proponent of this motion and was pitted against Will Quince. With such a Shakespearian name, I would have expected more of his speech, instead it was mainly bluster about the stupendous record of financial help from the government during this pandemic. This is very true, but there is such a strong feeling of deja vu with this government that the public can be assured that there will some sort of U-turn emerging soon.

It is farcical really that they can't or won't listen, as one Labour MP stated, until the chorus of discordant voices reaches fever pitch. They are either completely out of touch with how many families exist in this very unequal country or they just cannot relate to the situation. So watch this space because men, women and children cannot and should not be left hanging with this decimation of their income staring them in the face and certainly not in the current and still very precarious public health emergency.

Judith A Daniels

Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Rapid testing

I read Zoe Tidman’s article on coronavirus testing in schools with interest. Under the scheme, close contacts of a positive coronavirus cases can continue going to school and avoid self-isolating if they choose to take a daily rapid test and get a negative result.

And yes, these rapid tests failed to identify up to 50 per cent of positive infections, but so what? With daily testing, this figure of 50 per cent is only relevant for the first test on the first day. On day two, the chances of the same child carrying the virus tests negative is now 25 per cent (50 per cent of 50 per cent). On day three it is 12.5 per cent and so on until you get to figures you’d bet your house on.

In the absence of a completely accurate test, the rapid test is good enough if performed daily. That’s the “so what?”

Nigel Fox

Leamington Spa

Brexit fishermen

I have met and admire Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, but it is difficult to have a great deal of sympathy for the fishing industry. We are told that the majority of fishermen voted for Brexit, so they are now getting exactly what they voted for.

Colin Wright


All rhetoric, no facts

Boris Johnson says the economy will bounce back quickly after the pandemic. More rhetoric based on zero facts. He’s a master of over promising and under delivering.

Tony Howarth


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