Universal Credit – Boris Johnson sparks fears payments will be cut by £20 a week from April

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Comments from the Prime Minister to MPs have raised fears he may cut Universal Credit by £20 a week from April.

Universal Credit went up by £1,040 for the 2020/21 financial year to help with the impact of coronavirus.

But under current Government plans, the basic allowance will be cut from £409.89 to £324.84 a month on April 12 when the annual raise ends, the Mirror Online reports – unless the current increase is extended.

Boris Johnson has been urged not to remove almost a fifth of 5.7 million people’s basic allowance.

But he has now told MPs he would “rather see a focus on jobs and a growth in wages than focusing on welfare”.

He also said “the best thing is to get people into employment” – despite the fact 39 per cent of the 5.7 million people on Universal Credit in October already had a job.

A final decision on the Universal Credit rate may not be made until the Budget in March.

At the Commons Liaison Committee on Wednesday, Labour MP Stephen Timms said the rise in place at the moment had allowed many claimants to shop at supermarkets again, rather than food banks.

The MP said: “Isn’t it unfair leaving it until March before they find out whether that cut is going ahead?”

Mr Johnson stressed any final rate was still under review.

He said: “I take your point. I think what we want to see is jobs. We want to see people in employment, we want to see the economy bouncing back.

“I think most people in this country would rather see a focus on jobs and a growth in wages than focusing on welfare.

“But clearly we have to keep all these things under review.”

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds tweeted in response: “Universal Credit is also an in-work benefit. Please learn this as it affects millions of families.”

Mr Johnson also rejected calls to raise ‘legacy’ benefits for disabled people – which will rise 35p a week in April – to the Universal Credit rate. Some people remain on the so-called legacy benefits even though most people have been moved onto Universal Credit, and the two systems operate differently.

The PM said: “We want everybody to move onto Universal Credit – it’s a successful system.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer and a Tory former welfare chief have urged the Prime Minister to extend the raise.

Ex-Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb said last week: “Now is really not the moment to weaken our welfare safety net.

“Giving families on low incomes greater security for the year ahead by extending, rather than cutting support, is the right thing to do.”



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