Ministers of the UK government have committed to phasing out the £20 uplift in the regular payments made via the Universal Credit system.
The extra £20 has been allocated to Universal Credit claimants since the early days of the pandemic to help some of the most financially insecure people across the country get by.
Addressing MPs in Westminster this week, Therese Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, confirmed that the government still intended to move ahead with its “adjustment” to the basic level of Universal Credit payments.
The commitment to removing the uplift comes despite a growing clamour for the government to reconsider its position and to carry on paying slightly more each month to the millions of people who claim Universal Credit across the country.
Former work and pensions secretaries are among the high-profile figures recommending that the uplift be retained, while anti-poverty campaigners have said that reducing the incomes of benefit claimants will undoubtedly push many more households into serious financial hardship and debt.
Nonetheless, expectations are now that the £20 uplift to Universal Credit payments will be rescinded as of October.
In response to suggestions that removing the uplift will cause an increase in poverty, government ministers have said the plan for policymakers is to focus on getting as many people as possible into paid employment.
“I think that the best way forward is to get people into higher wage, higher skilled jobs,” the prime minister Boris Johnson said recently in response to questions about the government’s plans for Universal Credit.
“That’s the ambition of this government and if you ask me to make a choice between more welfare or better, higher paid jobs, I’m going to go for better, higher paid jobs,” he said.
Asked whether the policy on the Universal Credit uplift might yet change in advance of the scheduled adjustments in October, the prime minister said: “We keep everything under constant review but I’ve given you a pretty clear steer about what my instincts are.”
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