The current £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit will likely be maintained for six months, rather than a year, as the Prime Minister is thought to support the lesser extension, according to The Times.
The Universal Credit uplift has been the subject of a cabinet split, with Department for Work and Pensions secretary, Therese Coffey, thought to have been pushing hard to see the £20 per week guaranteed for another year, once it expires in April.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is thought to have been the minister pushing hardest for the uplift to be scrapped, although his reported preferred option of a one-off £500 payment in its place has now seemingly fallen by the wayside.
Creating a cliff edge?
It is thought that the Chancellor fears an extension to the uplift of a year would likely end up being a permanent increase, which could cost around £6 billion per year in total.
However, campaigners argue that the uplift still doesn’t make up for the benefits freeze applied by David Cameron’s government. They claim that the cost of making the uplift permanent would be significantly less if more people are helped into work during the Covid recovery.
Many MPs have argued that ending the uplift in April would create a cliff edge, and force many into poverty while the economy is still dealing with the effect of Covid. Many have the same concern about a six month extension.
‘The right thing to do’
The Universal Credit uplift is worth more than £1,000 per year to some of the poorest households in the UK
Speaking to The Times, former Conservative work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb said: “The right thing to do is extend it by 12 months and for the government to use the time to come up with a clear long-term plan.”
A government spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting the lowest-paid families through the pandemic, which is why we are spending hundreds of billions to safeguard jobs, are boosting welfare support by billions and have introduced the £170 million Covid winter grant scheme to help children and families stay warm and well-fed during the coldest months.”