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Budget 2021: Universal Credit £20 uplift extended

Written by: Emma Lunn
In a widely predicted move, chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the extra £20 a week on Universal Credit payments for a further six months.

When the coronavirus pandemic first hit, the government increased Universal Credit payments by £20 each week. But this uplift was due to end in April.

The extension of the uplift was leaked last month to ITV’s political editor Robert Peston – so it’s not a big Budget surprise.

In addition, working tax credit claimants will get equivalent support for a further six months. Due to the nature of working tax credit these claimants won’t get a weekly payment but will instead get a one-off payment of £500.

But poverty campaigners say Sunak hasn’t gone far enough. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation tweeted: “It’s unacceptable that Rishi Sunak has decided to cut #UniversalCredit incomes by £20 a week in six months’ time. This means support will be whipped away at the same time as furlough ends and will lead to hundreds of thousands more people being pulled into poverty.”

Numerous groups have been calling for the £20 uplift to remain in place.

The Work and Pensions Committee said last month that hundreds of thousands of households risk falling into poverty if the benefit was cut in April as planned.

And earlier in February, the Trussell Trust reported that nearly a quarter of a million parents feared not being able to feed their children properly if the £20 uplift was removed.

January saw MPs take place in a non-binding vote on maintaining the Universal Credit uplift. There were 278 votes in favour of the motion, with no votes against, with most Conservative MPs abstaining.

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