The uplift is vital to families on low incomes
Scotland’s Poverty Alliance is demanding the UK government reveals its findings on how a £20 cut to universal credit will impact claimants.
The group has written to Therese Coffey, secretary of state for work and pensions, after a Freedom of Information request by the Poverty Alliance saw the DWP deeming the disclosure of the information not in the public interest.
With the risk that the cut could pull hundreds of thousands of people across the UK into poverty, the Poverty Alliance has written to the secretary of state calling for the release of the government analysis and urging her to “listen to the voices of people struggling to stay afloat across the UK” by keeping the £20 lifeline.
By February this year there were five million UC claimants – double the number seen pre-pandemic. Almost all of these claimants are benefiting from the temporary £20 per week uplift in UC, due to expire at the end of September.
How much that uplift matters to family incomes varies substantially. On average it represents 12% of entitlements, but for a quarter of claimants (1.2 million) it makes up at least 20%.
Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “Governments have a moral responsibility to take decisions that protect people from poverty. The UK government increased Universal Credit by £20 because they knew it would otherwise fail to meet people’s needs. That was the right thing to do.
"Yet ministers are now planning to cut that £20 at a time when so many are struggling to stay afloat, and are compounding that decision by refusing to be straight with the public about what the impact of that decision will be. That is because they know that it will sweep hundreds of thousands of people across the country into poverty. To allow this to happen would be a moral failure; this is a simple case of right and wrong.
It is not too late for the UK government to change course. If it is serious about ‘levelling up’ then it will keep the £20 lifeline and begin to build a social security system that protects people from, rather than drives them into, poverty.”