A cross-party parliamentary group has called for the Universal Credit uplift to be made permanent.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group has called for the £20 uplift in Universal Credit to be made permanent and for the benefits cap to be raised or suspended during the pandemic.
The group said joint polling undertaken by Save the Children and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealed that 75% of those aware of the uplift said it had helped ease financial pressures, although it added that this was dwarfed by the greater drop in incomes or rising living costs for at least seven in 10 families. Academics had suggested that the uprating should not be viewed as an uplift but rather a partial reversal in cuts experienced by low-income households since 2010.
The group called for an honest discussion about how making the uplift permanent – at a cost of £6 billion would be funded and noted that a 2015 study showed the UK spent the lowest on unemployment of 28 equivalent countries, including France and Germany.
The group also called for the uplift to be extended to other legacy benefits in order to avoid a two-tier social security system and called for benefits to be increased generally.
And it says the benefit cap should be suspended or raised during the pandemic. It stated that several witnesses to the group’s inquiry had stressed that the benefit cap is preventing thousands of households from experiencing the uplift in Universal Credit.
It stated: “Given the current economic forecast of high unemployment, it is likely that people will be unemployed for a longer period of time than before pandemic due to the lack of available jobs. The APPG thus agrees with witnesses that the benefit cap should be at least temporarily suspended or raised in the context of the pandemic.”
Meanwhile, a study by Newcastle University which compares welfare systems in countries including the UK and the US has found that more generous benefits policies have a positive impact on mental health. Its authors added their voices to calls for the £20-a-week Covid top-up to universal credit to be make permanent and extended to other legacy benefits.