In March last year the Chancellor increased Universal Credit payments by £20 a week to help people in the lockdown. The extra payment has been a lifeline for millions of families.
In April this year he plans to remove the uplift and replace it with other support.
A lot of respected organisations think this would be a mistake – economic think tanks and business commentators as well as poverty campaigners and charities.
Citizens Advice Reigate and Banstead this week joined local Citizens Advice everywhere to ask the government to think again. Our #KeepTheLifeline campaign led on social media but also sought the help of local MPs.
“Financial life under Covid is difficult enough with many people struggling to meet even their basic costs. For those on universal credit the additional payment has been a genuine lifeline. Its removal would mean more of our clients plunged into financial uncertainty and crisis.
“I also feel sorry for those on legacy benefits who have struggled on without any increase. £20 is a substantial amount when you have so little. If it stays, it will encourage more people to apply for UC, as we think ministers would wish.”
“Every day our advisers speak to people whose lives have been turned upside down by Covid. In the crisis so far, they have helped nearly 1300 people with Universal Credit.
“According to the DWP, since March the total UC caseload in Reigate and Banstead has risen to 5,814 – up 139% on the same period last year. Removing the uplift could take around £5.4m out of the local economy, more if the caseload increases.”