Universal Credit: Kate Osborne says ‘unthinkable’ to cut uplift
Benefits such as Universal Credit have played a part in keeping people financially stable during the Covid pandemic. Coupled with furlough they have helped blunt the impact of soaring unemployment in the UK, tiding people over as they continue to navigate the pitfalls of lockdown. Politicians and the public welcomed a benefits hike, but this is allegedly under threat in the forthcoming spring budget.
Can you get a £500 benefits credit?
Mr Sunak is eyeing a £500 one-off payment as an alternative to boosted Universal Credits for claimants, according to the Times, which reported he had met with Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey to discuss replacements on Friday.
The current policy ends in April this year, following 12 months of aid which increased the benefit by £1040 per year.
The amount currently translates to a £20 weekly increase, and the chancellor is facing pressure to extend it.
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But news of the one-off £500 payment is as of yet unconfirmed.
As such, potential qualifying criteria do not yet exist, and it is not clear whether the policy will cover every Universal Credit beneficiary.
Mr Sunak is allegedly waiting for the budget – set for March 3 – to expand on any potential replacements for the benefits hike.
Speaking to Parliament’s Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister signalled a desire to move away from extensive benefits support.
He said he wanted to encourage employment and rejuvenate the economy, suggesting the benefits increase will not endure.
Mr Johnson said: “What we want to see is jobs.
“We want to see people in employment, we want to see the economy bouncing back.
“Most people in this country would rather see a focus on jobs and growth in wages than focusing on welfare but clearly, we have to keep all these things under review.”
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Opposition officials have reacted with anger at the potential scaling-back of benefits.
The Labour Party has called a vote on Monday to reject the Government’s proposition and continue to provide families with security.
Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow DWP secretary, said the proposed cuts – which follow an end to the furlough scheme in March – would prove “devastating”.
Mr Reynolds said: “Britain is facing the worst economic crisis of any major economy.”
“The chancellor’s decision to wind down support with his cut to universal credit will be devastating for families already struggling to get by and leave unemployment support at a 30 year low.
“Bringing in a one-off payment that doesn’t even equal half the amount the Government is planning to cut from millions of families’ incomes will damage our recovery.
“With jobs being lost each day and the furlough cliff edge looming, a lump sum rather than extended support will leave many to fall through the gaps.”
Mr Reynolds added the Government needs to “do the right thing” and cancel its current plans.
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