The First Ministers of Wales and Scotland along with the leaders of Northern Ireland have written a joint letter to the Prime Minister urging him not to end the Universal Credit “uplift.”
As one of the responses to the pandemic, a temporary increase of £20 was added to universal credit payments but that comes to an end on 6th October.There has been a lot of opposition to ending this particular scheme, including from Conservative MPs, chief among them the former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb who has warned that it could lead to an increase in poverty among those who are working.Now Mark Drakeford, Nicola Sturgeon, Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill have written to Boris Johnson.
In their letter they say, “We are writing to call on you, with the utmost urgency, to reverse your Government’s short-sighted decision to withdraw the £20-per-week uplift to Universal Credit.”Although it is a benefit, universal credit is designed to encourage work so many who claim it are already in jobs. The change is likely to affect a lot of people.As of 12th August there were 279,018 people here in Wales receiving Universal Credit.
The UK Government is standing by its decision, saying its focus is now shifting from protecting jobs through the pandemic towards creating new jobs and retraining.
A spokesperson said: “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit and the furlough scheme were temporary. They were designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and they have done so.
“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work and it’s right that the Government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”
A copy of this letter is being sent to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and relevant Secretary of States for the devolved nations.