Following the Opposition Debate this week, I just wanted to update constituents on the £20 Universal Credit uplift.
The reality is, as has always been the case, this £20 increase was always a temporary measure to support people through the toughest months of the pandemic, which we have now moved beyond. Maintaining this increase for another year would cost £6 billion per year - the equivalent to adding 1p on the basic rate of income tax AND 5p on fuel duty. Thanks to our vaccines, we are now beyond the toughest months of this pandemic, and our economic recovery is on track. The difficult reality is that at some point, Covid-based financial support must end, so we can move on as a country
However, I know this Government are committed to supporting people through the months ahead, as we continue our economic recovery, support people back into work and help those already employed to progress and earn more, through our Plan for Jobs.
Here are a number of steps we are taking to stand by those on lower incomes:
- Injecting an additional £9 billion into our welfare system, supporting our most vulnerable families and people.
- Delivering one of the most comprehensive economic response in the world to support families, jobs and businesses during the pandemic.
- Significantly increasing our support for lower incomes families with housing costs, so they have more money to spend on their priorities.
- Making up to £220 million available to councils through our Holiday Activities and Food Programme, helping disadvantaged children.
- Boosting the National Living Wage to £8.91 from April 2021, giving our lowest paid workers a vital pay rise
And, as Minister for Employment, I am delighted with the action we are taking to help people to get on the employment ladder and upskill, including:
- Getting over 69,000 young people into work through our £2 billion Kickstart Scheme, giving them the best start in life.
- Helping long-term unemployed people into work through our £2.9 billion Restart scheme, so they can benefit from the security of a good job.
- Investing over £200 million in our Job Entry Targeted Support scheme, helping jobs seekers into work.
- Doubling the number of Work Coaches to 27,000, giving jobseekers the personalised and intensive support they need to move back into work
- Launching a Lifetime Skills Guarantee so that people can get the skills they need at every stage of their life – meaning they can retrain and find new, well-paid jobs to build back better.
I know the matter of Universal Credit is one many constituents are concerned about, but I hope the above has highlighted that we are taking steps to continue supporting those on lower incomes, and I will of course continue to engage and work with colleagues in the Treasury and DWP on further actions we can take, as this temporary uplift comes to an end.