An anti-poverty campaign group based in Glasgow has raised concerns about the potential impact of the government ending its furlough scheme and rescinding the £20 uplift to Universal Credit payments.
Both those initial policies were introduced by the UK government in response to the impacts of the pandemic in 2020 but are scheduled to end as of October this year.
The Poverty Alliance is concerned that the end to the furlough scheme will result in job losses on a significant scale towards the end of the year and that the reversal of the Universal Credit uplift will add to the financial pressures on millions of people already struggling to make ends meet.
Writing to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) recently, the Poverty Alliance asked what assessments have been carried out by the government to establish the likely impacts of its plan to end the furlough scheme.
According to the Daily Record, the charity was told that no such assessments have been carried out and that the furlough scheme will run its course to the end of September but no further.
“That no assessment has been carried out on the potential poverty impact of the end of the scheme is startling,” Peter Kelly, a Poverty Alliance director, is quoted as saying.
“The UK government did the right thing in introducing the furlough scheme but with so many people struggling to stay afloat amid a rising tide of poverty, we cannot let the end of the scheme result in people being pulled into even greater hardship.”
Mr Kelly also made the case that recipients of Universal Credit should retain the £20 uplift in their regular payments and that new claimants of the benefit should never need to wait five weeks for their first payments to come through, as it currently common practice.
Around six million people across the UK are understood to have benefited from the £20 uplift to Universal Credit but the government is currently resisting pressure to retain the uplift and plans instead to rescind it from October.
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The Scottish government has committed to spending £64 million next year to help people in all parts of the country reduce their energy bills.
Ministers of the UK government have committed to phasing out the £20 uplift in the regular payments made via the Universal Credit system.
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