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Universal Credit: Covid-19

Volume 682: debated on Tuesday 20 October 2020

What assessment he has made of the effect on the economy of removing the temporary uplift in universal credit from April 2021 while the covid-19 outbreak continues. (907766)

The £20 per week increase in the universal credit standard allowance and working tax credit basic element forms just one part of the package of support the Government have provided to protect people’s jobs and incomes, including income support schemes.

The Government were right to increase universal credit and working tax credit by £20 a week. Surely, it would now be inconceivable to remove those increases in April as planned, before the pandemic is even over. Does the Minister accept that of the indirect levers available to the Government to stimulate what is, as we have heard already, going to be a weak economy for some time, measures that raise the incomes of low-income households are the most effective, and benefit increases are a good example?

I am grateful that the right hon. Gentleman recognises the additional £9 billion of support that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has put into welfare. That is reflected, as the right hon. Gentleman will further recognise, in the distributional analysis showing that that has protected those on the lowest incomes. That support is temporary, but it does extend to the spring, and it helps those families facing covid with the challenges over the coming months.