The Government introduced a package of welfare measures worth more than £9.3 billion this year, to help those facing the most financial disruption during the pandemic. We introduced a series of measures to support people, including an increase in the universal credit standard allowance for 12 months, worth up to £1,040. Increased local housing allowance rates have put an average of £600 into people’s pockets, and we made statutory sick pay available to employees from day one.
I thank the Minister for his answer, but ending the £20 universal credit uplift could see food bank use increase by 10%, according to the Trussell Trust, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned that 16 million people could lose £1,000 a year overnight, plunging 700,000 more people into poverty. Will the Government remove that cliff edge and make the £20 uplift to universal credit permanent?
The increase was introduced for an initial period of one year as part of the Government’s measures to assist with the financial consequences of covid-19. It was part of a £9.3 billion increase to the welfare system that ensured that it was able to stand up and support the millions of extra people who needed it. Future decisions on benefit rates will be made at the appropriate fiscal event.