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30 November, 2020 Open access

Ministers urged to fill ‘glaring omissions’ from last week’s Spending Review by making £20 benefit uplift permanent and extending increase to legacy benefits

Public statement from JRF and more than 60 charities and faith leaders says there is ‘no conceivable scenario in which this lifeline will not be necessary'

A public statement from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and more than 60 charities and faith leaders has urged the government to make the £20 uplift to universal credit and working tax credit permanent while also extending it to legacy benefits.

In the statement - whose signatories include the Child Poverty Action Group, the Disability Benefits Consortium, the Bishop of Durham, the National Housing Federation, and the Trussell Trust - the JRF highlights -

‘A glaring omission in this week’s Spending Review and annual benefit uprating decision was any announcement on the future of the £20 a week uplift to universal credit and working tax credit.’

Expressing deep concern that the government has chosen to leave claimants who have benefited from the temporary benefit increase this year in uncertainty and fear over Christmas, the signatories warn of the damage that ending the uplift in April 2021 will cause -

‘At a time when many livelihoods look uncertain and the number of people claiming universal credit has increased by 90 per cent since March, it would be a terrible mistake to undo the progress that has been made in strengthening our social security system.

There is no conceivable scenario in which this lifeline will not be necessary. New analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that 6.2 million families will feel a £1,040 a year cut to their incomes overnight and 500,000 people - including 200,000 children - are at risk of being swept into poverty.’

In addition, the signatories call for immediate action to extend the uplift to include claimants on legacy benefits, noting that these are predominantly disabled people and carers who are also facing rising costs, increased barriers to work, and heightened risks from the pandemic -

‘Although, the government has now said they will review the £20 uplift in the New Year, we know that the Department for Work & Pensions says it takes months to action any changes in benefit rates for people on legacy benefits - employment and support allowance, jobseeker’s allowance and income support. This is precisely why we needed to see a decision now so this support could be in place by April.’

Finally, the signatories urge ministers to make the uplift permanent for universal credit, working tax credit and legacy benefits -

'By doing this, they can keep doing the right thing, keep families afloat and strengthen our social security system so it provides the public service we can all turn to when we hit hard times.'

For more information see Coalition warns it would be a terrible mistake to cut the £20 uplift to Universal Credit from jrf.org.uk