Universal Credit: Boris Johnson must extend £20 uplift for a YEAR or thousands will fall into poverty, say MPs
BORIS Johnson must extend the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift today or risk hundreds of thousands of Brits falling into poverty, two powerful committees of MPs warn today.
The DWP and Women and Equalities committee called on the PM and Chancellor to ditch plans for a one-off cash payment and push on with for uplift the six million people on the flagship benefits programme.
MPs on the DWP committee said cutting the £1000 a year boost for families would "plunge hundreds of thousands of households, including children into poverty" while dragging those already in poverty "down into destitution".
They admitted it would cost a substantial £6.4billion a year to keep it, but called on the Chancellor to see it in the context of the huge £280billion spent so far on keeping the economy afloat.
It should continue for at least a year, they said. At the moment it is due to run until the end of March.
The committee slapped down calls for a one-off £1,000 gift as floated by the Treasury – something Work and Pensions boss Therese Coffey had said last week would not be her preferred choice.
Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “Removing the extra payment in March would represent a failure by the Government – failure to recognise the reality of people struggling. Without regular support, hundreds of thousands of families will be swept into poverty or even destitution. Government must end the uncertainty and commit to extending this lifeline."
And Caroline Nokes, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee said ministers must keep the uplift to make sure that everyone is "given the help that they need to recover financially from the pandemic".
Her committee called on Boris to maintain the uplift – but didn't give a specific timeframe.
The Sun has been campaigning to fix Universal Credit with upfront cost with childcare fees, slashing the taper rate, and making sure the five week wait is reduced.
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work
UNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.
By the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship system – it takes five weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85% of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to six months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. Since December 2018, we've been calling for the government to:
- Get paid faster: The government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop millions from being pushed into debt.
- Keep more of what you earn:The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4million families.
- Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85% of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email [email protected] to share your story.
The Treasury and DWP are still in talks about a solution to the Universal Credit issue.
The Sun has previously revealed how the PM is set to make the final call – and is due to temporarily extend the uplift until the summer, before tapering it off.
A Government spokesperson said in response to the calls: “We are committed to supporting the lowest-paid families through the pandemic, which is why we’re spending hundreds of billions to safeguard jobs, boosting welfare support by billions and have introduced the £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme to help children and families stay warm and well-fed during the coldest months.”
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit
IF you're experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don't cover costs, here are your options:
- Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it's a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit payout.
- Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.
- Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the Government for emergency household costs of up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You'll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You'll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
- Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax by applying for a Council Tax Reduction. Alternatively, you might be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments to help cover your rent.
- Foodbanks – If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.
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