Universal Credit £20 top-up will end in September
The government has confirmed that the extra £20 a week paid to Universal Credit claimants since the onset of the pandemic will be withdrawn at the end of September.
The work and pensions minister Thérèse Coffey told MPs the benefit money will be cut as planned, despite widespread opposition to the move. Coffey argued that the uplift will no longer be needed as the economy opens up.
However, poverty campaigners and the Labour party disagree. Mubin Haq, CEO of the Standard Life Foundation, said: “Too often governments are accused of sleep-walking into bad decisions. This is the opposite. The government has been provided with ample evidence of the potential impact of cutting Universal Credit.
“Our financial impact tracker shows that one in five families are already struggling to pay for food. The IFS found those on the lowest incomes have been more likely to use any savings they had and more likely to incur debts. The Fabian Society calculated that cutting £20 a week from Universal Credit will push a further 760,000 people into poverty.
“Taking the £20 away is not backed by the public, with nearly 70% wanting to keep the increase. It is a lifeline for millions, a safety net we all rely on.”
Jonathan Reynolds MP, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, said: “The government’s plans to cut Universal Credit will hit the lowest paid hardest and hurt our economic recovery. Six million families are set to lose £1,000 a year while out of work support will be left at its lowest level in decades.
“There is near universal opposition to this cut, including from prominent Conservatives. It is time the government saw sense, backed struggling families and cancelled their cut to Universal Credit.”
When the coronavirus pandemic first hit, the government increased Universal Credit payments by £20 each week. This uplift was due to end in April 2021, but was extended by six months in the Budget in March.
A report by Citizens Advice last month found that Universal Credit wasn’t fit for purpose.