Universal Credit £20 uplift ‘to continue for another six months’
Peston said that the decision was now waiting for sign off from prime minister Boris Johnson.
When the coronavirus pandemic first hit, the government increased Universal Credit payments by £20 each week. But this uplift is due to end in April.
Writing on his Peston’s Politics blog, Peston wrote: “I am told that the chancellor Rishi Sunak has abandoned his hope of ending the top-up £20 payment once-and-for-all at the budget on 3 March. The Treasury had originally wanted to terminate it by making a single lump sum payment of circa £500, equivalent to six months money, to all current recipients of it.
“Instead, the £20 increment will continue to be paid in the normal way for at least another six months.”
The news comes as a study, carried out by researchers at five universities for the Welfare at A Social Distance project, found that one in six new Universal Credit claimants have been forced to skip meals.
The study looked at the experiences of thousands of people who signed on after losing their job under lockdown.
It found that even with the temporary £20 a week Covid-19 uplift, many people struggled to bridge the gap between benefits and living costs without borrowing from family, running up credit card debt, or using food banks.
Numerous groups have called for the £20 uplift to Universal Credit to remain in place.
The Work and Pensions Committee said earlier this month that hundreds of thousands of households risk falling into poverty if the benefit is cut in April as planned.
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.