Community Christmas carol concert in Shirebrook to raise awareness of poverty and cuts

A trade union’s ‘community carol concert’ at Shirebrook aims to raise awareness of those facing the difficult decision to ‘heat or eat’ amid poverty and benefit cuts this Christmas.

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 12:54 pm

Unite members will gather for its Christmas Crisis Carol Concert in Shirebrook Market, on Friday, December 10, at 10am.

Branch members have changed the lyrics of the traditional songs to reflect the situation of those claiming Universal Credit, often struggling with difficult choices such as buying food or paying bills.

The union is calling on the Government to restore its £1,040 per year cut to the benefit – the removal of a temporary £20 weekly uplift during the coronavirus pandemic – and asks for it to be extended to all claimants.

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A similar choir protest event held in Chesterfield some years ago

Unite says the ‘cut’ has affected many of the lowest paid workers, leaving some at risk of debt, facing higher bills with the reduced income.

It hopes to draw the attention of shoppers over festive season, as Unite tours 25 of the so-called ‘Red Wall’ seats in the run up to Christmas, including Bolsover constituency.

It is asking MPs to put pressure the Government to reverse the cut.

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The Union cites research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation saying that stopping the £20 per week payment pushed 500,000 families, including 200,000 children, further into poverty.

It claims food banks nationwide are “struggling to meet demand,” amid cuts and the end of furlough.

Colin Hampton, of North Derbyshire Unite Community, said “Insulting the poorest in society by shouting about the pennies extra working claimants can keep as a result of the miserable changes to the Universal Credit taper rate will not put food on the table or keep homes warm.

“The extra £20 per week helped feed and clothe children. Its removal shames the nation. Our Christmas Crisis Carol Concert is designed to draw people to reflect on what is happening to many in our community.’

“Proceeds from the collection at the Shirebrook town centre concert will go to the local food bank and the unemployed workers’ centres that will have to deal with the consequences of the Universal Credit cuts.”

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