Universal credit increase: Has Rishi Sunak extended Universal Credit £20 uplift?

Budget 2021: Predicted measures from Chancellor Rishi Sunak

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined his coronavirus economic recovery plan in the annual Budget. The Chancellor has announced billions in extra spending to aid the UK through the rest of the pandemic in line with restrictions set to ease in the coming months – including Universal Credit.

Back in March 2020, before coronavirus had even been announced as a worldwide pandemic by the WHO, Universal Credit was increased following mounting concern the virus was going to become prevalent across the UK.

One year later, the £20 uplift of Universal Credit has been essential for struggling families throughout the crisis.

Millions have been pushed onto the benefit throughout the past year following job losses, with unemployment currently at a five year high.

Some six million families have benefitted from the uplift, which gives claimants an extra £20 per week on standard allowances for their situation.

Rishi Sunak has faced increased pressure to keep the uplift in place throughout the remainder of the coronavirus crisis, and further pressure to make the uplift permanent.

Around 40 Tory MPs also backed the increase in the benefit, backing another 12 months of enhanced payments in a letter to Mr Sunak and Boris Johnson.

The MP’s insisted that a six-months continuation would only delay the “cliff-edge” moment.

Has Rishi extended the UC uplift?

The Government’s temporary coronavirus support for families on UC is worth £1,040 a year and was originally intended to last a year.

It is expected the Chancellor will announce a continuation of the uplift later today in the Budget.

He is expected to announce that any extension will last six months.

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Express.co.uk will update this article with more information once the Budget is underway.

However, it is not expected Mr Sunak will make the uplift permanent despite pressure from MPs and charities.

The Treasury has been reluctant to keep the uplift in place – the move has already cost £6 billion per year.

Charities and experts have warned that the removal of the uplift could plunge millions below the poverty line.

The Commons work and pensions committee has said keeping the higher rate for another year must be the “bare minimum”.

Its chairman, Stephen Timms, warned last month: “Without regular support, hundreds of thousands of families will be swept into poverty or even destitution. Government must end the uncertainty and commit to extending this lifeline.”

Labour MP Lisa Nandy said in Wigan Today: “A cut would be a mistake for families, for the economy and for our ability to effectively recover from the pandemic.

“This £20 a week is not saved by families but spent in shops and businesses, stimulating the economy.”

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