The government`s plan to scrap the increase in Universal Credit payments brought in during the pandemic could force thousands into poverty.
Committees at the UK`s four parliaments have come together to call for an extension of the uplift. In a letter, committees at Westminster, Holyrood, Stormont, and the Senedd joined together urge to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey on the issue.
A £20 increase per week in Universal Credit had sustained thousands of families through the coronavirus pandemic. The UK Government introduced the uplift together with the furlough scheme as short-term measures to support the people.
However, the uplift which is ending in October risks families “at the very time unemployment is expected to peak”, conveners warned the Chancellor and Ms. Coffey.
The joint letter from the conveners says: “Ending the uplift would mean that the six million people claiming Universal Credit will lose £1,040 in annual income overnight.
“The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has estimated that removing the uplift would force 500,000 people, including 200,000 children, into poverty.
“Families on the lowest incomes, those with children and particularly single parents, BAME families, and families where someone is disabled are disproportionately affected.”
Anti-poverty campaigners, union leaders, and opposition politicians have joined the call to make the increase to the benefit payment permanent.
In order to maintain the uplift, the government will have to spend about £6 billion per year. A Government spokesperson said the temporary uplift is meant to enable the UK to focus on multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs.