Universal Credit update: Rishi Sunak pressured to make £20 uplift permanent

Budget 2021: Sunak reveals continued Universal Credit uplift

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Universal Credit is a payment designed to help those out of work, unable to work or who are on a low income. The sum, overseen by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), underwent an increase of £20 per week due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Government have said this is a short-term temporary measure, and plans to end the uplift in October.

But there has been significant push back on the matter which have led to questions about the policy’s future.

The heads of parliamentary welfare committees from across the UK have written a letter to Dr Therese Coffey, Work and Pensions Secretary, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, to call for action.

The letter was signed by the four committee chairs of the UK’s four parliaments and is thought to be the first of its kind.

It urged Dr Coffey and Mr Sunak to keep the £20 extra payment of Universal Credit in order to help families who are still struggling. 

The letter read: “This uplift has been a lifeline for millions of families, saving them from being impoverished and we welcomed its extension until October.

“We now hope you will consider making this uplift permanent and extending it to legacy benefits, which are disproportionately claimed by disabled people.”

The letter cited research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which analysed the impact of a Universal Credit cut on claimants.

It said removing the uplift may force 500,000 people, including 200,000 children, into poverty.

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Families on the lowest incomes, as well as those with children, BAME families and families where someone is disabled will be disproportionately affected.

Dan Paskins, Director of UK Impact at Save the Children, commented on the matter.

He said: “We are pleased to see the chairs of four welfare committees from around the UK, call on the Chancellor, to keep in place the £20 a week increase to Universal Credit, past September.

“The £20 increase has been a lifeline for families, and many we work with have told us they have relied on it to buy food and essentials for themselves and their children.

“The Government says that work is the best route out of poverty – but many families receiving Universal Credit are already working, and if this cut goes ahead, even more children and families will be pushed into poverty and hardship.

“All children deserve to grow up with the opportunities they need to develop and thrive. 

“Now is the time for the Government to listen to the growing number of voices expressing support, and abandon plans to cut Universal Credit this autumn.”

Universal Credit has proven a vital safety net for six million people throughout the pandemic.

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However, the letter suggests these individuals will lose £1040 in annual income overnight if the uplift is removed.

There may also be a problem as furlough is scheduled to finish at the end of September, which could lead to mass redundancies. 

Previously commenting on its policy, a Government spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “The temporary Universal Credit uplift was brought in to support those with the lowest incomes during the pandemic. 

“Now that restrictions are ending it is right that the Government should focus its support – through our multi-billion-pound Plan for Jobs – to help people learn new skills to progress in their career, increase their hours or find new work.”

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