Committees from UK’s four parliaments call for £20 increase in Universal Credit to be made permanent


Committees from UK’s four parliaments call for £20 increase in Universal Credit to be made permanent after it was brought in during pandemic

  • MPs are urging the £20 increase in Universal Credit to be made permanent
  • Committees at UK’s four parliaments say payments are ‘lifeline for millions’
  • Rishi Sunak is trying to bring spending under control after the pandemic

Committees at the UK’s four parliaments have joined together to urge the UK not to ditch the £20 per week increase in Universal Credit brought in during the coronavirus pandemic.

The conveners of committees at Westminster, Holyrood, Stormont and the Senedd have jointly written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey on the issue.

The Government has insisted that the extra £20 is a short-term measure ending in October. However, the committees said they hoped London would ‘take seriously our view that the uplift should be extended’.

Labour’s Stephen Timms at Westminster, the SNP’s Neil Gray for Holyrood, Paula Bradley of the DUP for Stormont and Welsh Labour’s Jenny Rathbone at the Senedd in Cardiff argue the increase in Universal Credit payments has been ‘a lifeline for millions of families, saving them from being impoverished’.  

The joint letter says: ‘Ending the uplift would mean that the six million people claiming Universal Credit will lose £1,040 in annual income overnight.

The conveners of committees at Westminster, Holyrood, Stormont and the Senedd have jointly written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey on the issue

Committees at the UK's four parliaments have joined together to urge the UK not to ditch the £20 per week increase in Universal Credit brought in during the coronavirus pandemic

Committees at the UK’s four parliaments have joined together to urge the UK not to ditch the £20 per week increase in Universal Credit brought in during the coronavirus pandemic

‘The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has estimated that removing the uplift would force 500,000 people, including 200,000 children, into poverty.

‘Families on the lowest incomes, those with children and particularly single parents, BAME families, and families where someone is disabled are disproportionately affected.’

They also call for the extra £20 a week to be extended to people on legacy benefits – which were created before universal credit.

They warn the Chancellor and Ms Coffey: ‘You also risk removing this support from families at the very time unemployment is expected to peak, as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme comes to an end.’ 

Sources told the BBC that Ms Coffey wanted to maintain the uplift, but that the Chancellor is resisting it

Sources told the BBC that Ms Coffey wanted to maintain the uplift, but that the Chancellor is resisting it

Extending the uplift would cost around £6billion a year – but the Government says spending has to be brought under control after enormous emergency interventions during the pandemic.

Sources told the BBC that Ms Coffey wanted to maintain the uplift, but that the Chancellor is resisting it.  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson could face a backbench rebellion, with a number of Tory MPs including former Work and Pensions Secretaries and so-called ‘Red Wall’ MPs representing constituencies in the north of England among those concerned about the impact of removing the uplift.  

A Government spokesperson told the BBC: ‘Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and we announced the temporary uplift as part of a £400billion package of measures put in place that will last well beyond the end of the roadmap.

‘Our focus now is on our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs, which will support people in the long-term by helping them learn new skills and increase their hours or find new work.’  

Opposition politicians, union leaders and anti-poverty campaigners have all been urging ministers to make the increase to the benefit payment permanent. 

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