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Universal Credit: Wales

Volume 700: debated on Monday 13 September 2021

I do worry about this cut to universal credit of £20 a week. In a constituency such as mine, that is taking £6.5 million out of the local economy. That is going to make it more difficult for local businesses to afford extra staff and more difficult for people to find jobs, so it is a completely counterproductive measure, leaving aside the cruelty of making families struggle on even less money. As I understand it, the Secretary of State said this morning to people who are going to lose the £20 a week, “Well, you just either need to get a better job or work more hours.” Can the Minister explain to us, and to the 2,543 people in the Rhondda who are in employment and on universal credit, how many extra hours at the national minimum living wage they would have to work to get that £20?

That of course would depend on their individual circumstances, but to answer the hon. Gentleman’s question, the Government have always been clear that the £20 increase was a temporary measure to support households affected by the economic shock of covid-19. There have been significant positive developments in the public health situation since the uplift was introduced, with the success of the vaccine roll-out, restrictions being lifted and our economy opening up, and now there are more than 1 million live vacancies in our jobs market. I will take one issue with what the hon. Gentleman said: he referred to a cut. A cut would represent savings. There are no savings. What he is proposing is an extra £6 billion to £9 billion, which would need to be raised by taxes.