Many constituents have contacted calling for the government to make the UC uplift permanent.
I certainly agree that the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit should made permanent, and that legacy benefits should be uprated to match Universal Credit. I can confirm that I voted to cancel the cut to Universal Credit at the Opposition Day debate on 18th January.
While the Coronavirus health restrictions have been critical in protecting our most vulnerable, the subsequent scale of financial hardship is alarming. Trussell Trust figures present an 81% increase in people needing support from food banks at the end of March 2020 to prevent them from going under, compared with the same time the previous year.
The pandemic has exploited vulnerabilities in society, the majority of which were exacerbated by the previous decade of austerity. IPPR research identifies that those on lower incomes, those suffering from worse health, and those in more precarious financial situations are bearing the brunt of both the financial and health elements of the pandemic.
The £20 uplift has been a vital lifeline for local people that has helped to safeguard their quality of life and helped to avert permanent economic suffering, but peoples financial issues are not going to go away in the Spring. Currently the £20 uplift is still set to end in March, I am deeply concerned that research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that an end to the Universal Credit uplift would result in 16 million people being in households that lose a devastating £1040 from their annual incomes, which will force many into debt and bankruptcy.
Alongside my colleagues in the All Party Parliamentary Group on Universal Credit, we wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in November ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review to request that he bolsters support for Universal Credit claimants, you can read that letter here.
I also wrote to the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in January to once again ask them to extend the £20 uplift to those on legacy benefits. You can read that letter here.
I am disappointed the Chancellor has not yet committed to extending this uplift beyond March, into the new financial year, or to extending the uplift to those on legacy benefits. I will continue to fight for this in Parliament.