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Unite Christmas tour of East Midlands’ ‘Red Wall’ seats highlights the Universal Credit ‘heat or eat’ winter crisis

Industrial reporter @TrinderMatt

UNITE’s Christmas tour of “Red Wall” seats to highlight the “heat or eat” crisis exacerbated by the Tories’ slashing of universal credit is set to reach the East Midlands on Thursday. 

The tour will see Unite Community members visit 25 constituencies in Labour’s former heartlands across England to highlight Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s removal of the £20-a-week uplift to the benefit in October.

The move has pushed 500,000 families, including 200,000 children, into further poverty, according to research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The East Midlands section of the national campaign will reach Ashfield and Gedling on Thursday, and Bolsover and Bassetlaw on Friday.

Members will hold street stalls and a foodbank collection to “reinforce the message that increasing poverty is stalking” the region.

Local Tory MPs will also be asked to support their constituents’ efforts to reverse the cut, worth £1,040 a year.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It should not be forgotten that four out of 10 universal credit claimants are in work.

“Unite is pledged to fight poverty pay, and fight the causes of poverty — be it low incomes or below breadline benefits. 

“On this tour our members will be highlighting who is responsible for increasing the hardship that many families face this Christmas — the Tory MPs who voted for Sunak’s disgraceful cut.”

The union’s regional secretary for the East Midlands Paresh Patel said the move is leading to increased poverty in the area. 

“For example, in Ashfield and Bassetlaw, one in five families have suffered because of the pernicious clawback,” he said.

“Demand at the region’s food banks has jumped to a frightening level.

“The UK is the world’s sixth largest economy. It can do so much better.”

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