Universal Credit to change in April – but Boris urged to backtrack – will it affect you?

Universal Credit: Expert on ‘difficulty’ of monthly payment

Universal Credit provides important support to households on a low income, or those who are unemployed. The benefit system has been leaned upon by millions of people, particularly due to the COVID-19 crisis of the last year. The government recognised the need for further support, and implemented a temporary increase – worth approximately £1,000 a year – to help those in receipt of Universal Credit.

But with this temporary measure currently set to expire in April 2021, there has been concern expressed about how households will be affected if this support is withdrawn.

Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, is the most recent voice to highlight potential issues which could arise.

He highlighted the economic difficulties facing many, and the challenges they are facing due to the pandemic.

In a speech on securing the economy for families during lockdown, Sir Keir said: “We’re in the worst recession for 300 years.

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“Yet the Prime Minister and the Chancellor plan to cut Universal Credit taking £1,000 a year from millions of families and pulling another 200,000 children into poverty.

“This is the government that gave Dominic Cummings a £40,000 pay rise, but won’t pay our carers a decent wage.”

Sir Keir also called upon the government to implement a pay rise for key workers, and to extend support to the ‘excluded’ group, who have not been able to receive government support.

The Leader of the Opposition also took to his Twitter account to express concern about the measure being temporary.

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He said he was urging the Prime Minister to “think again” about removing the uplift.

Upon the outbreak of COVID-19, the government took steps to increase the standard allowance in Universal Credit for one year.

This increase is worth £20 a week to provide important financial support to those affected by the pandemic.

There have been a number of calls recently for the government to address the temporary uplift – either by extending the support, or making it permanent.

In December 2020, Lord Forsyth of the Lords economic affairs committee, warned the country was “sleepwalking” into an unemployment crisis if action was not taken.

The committee stated the temporary increase to Universal Credit should be made permanent, as it was “obvious” the benefit system needs to be addressed.

In addition, over 60 organisations and bishops issued a public statement via the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to call for a permanent increase.

The letter read: “At a time when many livelihoods look uncertain and the number of people claiming Universal Credit has increased by 90 percent since March, it would be a terrible mistake to undo the progress that has been made in strengthening our social security system.

“The removal of this support would not only be immoral, but it will also damage the UK’s recovery.”

The organisations also stated support is needed for those who are on legacy benefits to provide a similar level of support.

The government previously stated it would review the policy to Universal Credit in the new year.

This is because, it said, the situation was evolving on the matter. However, with 2021 entering its second week, it could mean a decision is just around the corner.

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