Westminster, Holyrood, Stormont and Senedd Committees unite to call for Universal Credit uplift to be made permanent

21.07.2021

The UK Government should make the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit permanent, according to a joint letter issued by cross-party committees from Westminster, the Northern Irish Assembly, the Welsh Senedd and the Scottish Parliament.

 

 

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak and Work Pensions Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, have confirmed that the uplift will come to an end in October.

However, if the uplift is removed, the 6 million people claiming Universal Credit will lose £1,040 in annual income overnight. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation this could force 500,000 people, including 200,000 children, into poverty.

The letter also raises concerns that the benefit will be removed from families at the same time unemployment is due to peak as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme comes to an end.

The Committees call on the uplift to be extended to legacy benefits, to make sure those in need do not miss out.

The letter was signed by Neil Gray MSP, Convener of Holyrood’s Social Justice and Social Security Committee, Stephen Timms MP, Chair of Westminster’s Work and Pensions Select Committee, Paula Bradley MLA, Chair of Stormont’s Committee for Communities, and Jenny Rathbone MS, Chair of the Senedd’s Equality and Social Justice Committee.

Neil Gray MSP, Convener of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee, said:

“The UK Government did the right thing at the start of the pandemic to increase Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit to give better support to people during these incredibly challenging times.

“But removing the uplift in October would have devastating consequences for our most vulnerable in society, who have been hit hardest by this pandemic.

“This risks sending many more people into poverty at a time when we should be doing all we can to support them.

Mr Gray added:

“All four of our Committees agree that by spending this money now on social security, we can avoid putting more people into poverty, helping save more money in the longer term on health, education, justice and other social services.”

Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee, said:

“To sweep away such a vital lifeline from people who have felt the very worst effects of the pandemic risks plunging hundreds of thousands of people into poverty at a time when they will have had little or no chance to get back on their feet.

“Six Conservative former welfare secretaries have warned the Chancellor of the grave consequences of his proposed course of action. The strength of feeling on all sides of the political divide, and across the UK, could not be clearer. The Government must change course.

“At the same time, the Government must also increase support for the people who, through no fault of their own, are still claiming older benefits and have received no pandemic-related increases at all - despite their living costs rising during the pandemic.”

Jenny Rathbone MS, Chair, Equality and Social Justice Committee, said:

“Whilst, in Wales, policy relating to Universal Credit and other social security benefits is reserved to Westminster, we are deeply concerned about the impact removing the uplift might have on widening social inequality in Wales; growing indebtedness as a result of the economic impact of Covid; and the ability of low income families to eat as well as pay their rent.”

 

 

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