Universal Credit Uplift of £20 per week ending soon
By: Fatmir, redwigwam
The Work and Pensions Minister, Thérèse Coffey, has confirmed that the Pandemic Universal Credit Uplift program ends on 30 September 2021, despite opposition from the public and Conservative party supporters.
The £20 "uplift" was a very successful program, which was set up in April 2020, at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The number of families assisted by these funds was impressive.
Over 6 million low-income families were provided with additional revenue. Often, this assistance meant the difference between paying the rent and buying food, especially those who lost jobs or were unable to work due to testing positive for Covid-19.
However, with changing Covid-19 and the ending of restrictions, many realised the program was running out of time.
Claimants were notified as early as 11th August about the program’s termination, and when the last payment date would be. They were also provided additional resources and support if they needed it. It is estimated the loss of the £20 uplift will reduce support for many hard-working families by as much as £1,040 a year.
MPs voted 253-0 in favour of cancelling the £20-a-week Universal Credit Uplift while Boris Johnson was busy with his Cabinet reshuffle.
Dozens of Conservative MPs had previously voiced their fears over the cut, which was opposed by six former Tory welfare chiefs along with landlords, debt charities, mortgage lenders, food banks and unions. The Tories believed there was a duty and a responsibility to protect those with most financially vulnerable in society. Evidence showed that a sudden reduction in income of this magnitude would negatively impact a lot of people.
Former Work and Pensions Secretary, Stephen Crabb, stated that a modern Conservative Party should stand on the side of supermarket workers, cleaners and care workers, many of whom claimed UC to top up poverty wages. He noted, “I came to the view a while ago that the level of Universal Credit in March 2020 was too low.”
He went on: "Anybody who thinks that we have generous benefits in this country, I'm afraid, is wrong. Either looking at it internationally, or looking at it historically, in no way can you describe UK benefits as generous; we don't have generous benefits." Crabb also criticized Thérèse Coffey's claim that families could simply take extra hours to make up for the cut.
"One of the reasons why in-work poverty did increase in the years leading up to the pandemic was, directly related to the fact that we had frozen the main rate of working age benefits that supported families on low income," Crabb stated, "The evidence shows if you are a family living in destitution, living with anxiety, mental health problems directly as a result of your financial circumstances, you are less well able to engage with the labour market productively and increase your earnings, increase those hours."
The final vote came after an intense debate and a protest by Universal Credit claimants. One protestor stated they would no longer be able to afford their painkillers. Another told the Mirror they would be unable to afford clean clothing anymore. Many felt that, by cancelling the uplift, the government showed that they were completely out of touch.
Coffey stated that the Government timed the end of the Universal Credit uplift to correlate with the end of the furlough scheme. Her argument was that more people would benefit from plans to boost “pay, prospects, and prosperity” through work and reemployment than through the universal uplift. Coffey also stated that opposition parties had “demonized” Universal Credit and more people would be better off if they moved over to the system from legacy benefits, even without the uplift.
Matt Kelly, Income Manager at Ongo, said: “We understand that income changes may take some adjusting for families, so we want to be clear to all of our tenants that we are here.” Kelly said they were closely following what the impact would be, and they wanted to reach out and have conversations with those affected, and to let them know that assistance and advice can be provided. Kelly’s organisation is willing to work with tenants to budget, seek work or enrol in a training programme, and make sure that debt is adequately managed.
To find out more about Universal Credit, go to: www.gov.uk/universal-credit
If you’re on universal credit and will be impacted by losing this benefit uplift and looking for a way to make up for the shortfall, joining redwigwam could help you with some extra weekly income.
We have plenty of flexible work and you could easily earn the amount you are losing in universal credit just by completing a few mystery shopping roles per week. We also have work in other sectors if you wanted to try out different roles and add some employment and skills to your CV.