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5 July, 2021 Open access

‘Additional resources’ put into universal credit should be maintained, say six Conservative former Work and Pensions Secretaries

However, David Gauke cautions that 'in normal times' there are better ways to improve the way universal credit works than the £20 uplift

The 'additional resources' put into universal credit during the Covid-19 pandemic should be maintained, six Conservative former Work and Pensions Secretaries have said.

In a letter to the Chancellor, the six - Iain Duncan Smith, Stephen Crabb, Damian Green, David Gauke, Esther McVey and Amber Rudd - say that while there are some tough choices to be made in respect of the public finances, if the government wants to support those who are most financially insecure following the pandemic, maintaining the additional support in universal credit is the best way to do it.

However, writing for the conservativehome.com website, Mr Gauke says that maintaining the £20 uplift is not necessarily the right approach outside of the pandemic -

'A simple £20 uplift was the best way to provide quickly additional support to those in need, especially at a time when many were not able to work. In normal times, however, there are better ways to improve the way universal credit works - such as increasing the work allowance or lowering the taper rate.

Consequently, we have argued for maintaining the current funding levels, but that the government should consider how that money is spent. That will still come with political challenges - some people will see their universal credit payments reduced from current levels if there is any reprioritisation - but it will leave us with a system more generous than pre-pandemic and still focused on making work pay.'

For more information, see The Duncan Smith-Gauke Alliance. We band together to back Universal Credit from conservativehome.com