The Commons Work and Pensions Committee has called for the uplift in Universal Credit to be extended for at least a year.
The Commons Work and Pensions Committee has added its voice to calls to keep the £20 per week increase in Universal Credit (UC) and Working Tax Credit in a report published today.
The report calls for year-long extension of increase ‘at the very least’ and says its removal in April while the effects of the pandemic are still being would plunge hundreds of thousands of families into poverty.
The Committee had previously called for the increase to be made permanent, estimated to be around £6.4bn in the next financial year. It says it recognises the financial constraints on the Chancellor, but wants to see future plans for the rate of Universal Credit outlined no later than the Autumn Statement 2021 to give claimants enough time to plan and budget.
The report adds that any plans to replace the increase with one-off payments, which the Government is reported to be investigating, should be abandoned amid concerns over fraud and impact on vulnerable.
The number of people claiming Universal Credit has doubled to around six million since March and job vacancies remain far below pre-pandemic levels.
Stephen Timms, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “The Chancellor faces difficult decisions about the public finances. He may find it hard at present to make the increase permanent. But the pandemic’s impact on the economy and livelihoods will, sadly, be with us for some time. An extension for a year should be the bare minimum.
“We must also hope that Rishi Sunak will listen to the groundswell of arguments against one-off payments as an alternative, including from his cabinet colleague at our Committee last week. There is broad agreement that a steady income is necessary to support people.”