Steve Barclay: Universal Credit top up a 'temporary measure'

Steve Barclay. Credit: ITV

No decision to stop the £20 top up to Universal Credit has been made, according to Steve Barclay MP.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury says the the matter will be reviewed despite speculation that the extra money will be stopped after it was not budgeted for in the Chancellor's Spending Review.

Speaking to ITV's Peston, Mr Barclay said: “What we’ve always said is it’s a temporary measure we’ve brought in alongside Covid to respond to that.

"That was the legislation, the basis it was brought forward. Of course these things are will kept under review but it is not a decision for this spending review."

Asked if the government's mind was already made up, Mr Barclay responded: “It’s for the same reasons we’ve said all along, what we are focused on is responding to Covid and supporting jobs.

Since April this year, Universal Credit claimants were given a £20-a-week boost in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The temporary measure is due to come to an end in April 2021, prompting charities to call on the Government to extend and even make permanent the welfare increase beyond the impending deadline.

However, Chancellor Rishi Sunak did not address these calls when he set out his one-year Spending Review at the House of Commons, leading to community figures urging him to reconsider and Mr Barclay has also offered no assurances.

Youth homelessness charity Centrepoint said it had argued strongly for the retention of the £20 uplift in Universal Credit, which has made “a huge day-to-day difference for thousands of unemployed young people”.

Paul Noblet, head of public affairs at Centrepoint, said: “The government’s failure to commit to retaining the current uplift in Universal Credit is hugely disappointing and will weigh heavily on the minds of millions of people for whom the £20 a week increase has made a huge difference.

“There is still time for the government to reflect on this issue between now and the end of March and we urge them to think again.”