Devolved administrations call for reversal of Universal Credit cut

A letter from the UK’s three devolved governments has been sent to the UK government’s secretary of state for the Department of Work and Pensions, expressing ‘grave concerns’ regarding plans to withdraw a £20-per-week increase to Universal Credit.

The letter, jointly signed by the Welsh government’s minister for social justice, Jen Hutt, Scottish government’s cabinet secretary for social justice, housing and local government, Shona Robison, and the Northern Ireland executive’s minister for communities, Deidre Hargey, questions the decision to withdraw support for the poorest in society.

It also questions the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) stated position that the decision not to further extend or make permanent the £20-per-week increase in Universal Credit is to encourage people into work.

Latest government statistics show that of the 6 million people on Universal Credit, 2.2m are already working and 1.6m are not required to work due to health and caring responsibilities that prevent them from seeking employment.

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The letter said: ‘This planned reduction means the biggest overnight reduction to a basic rate of social security since the modern welfare state began, more than 70 years ago. Failing to maintain the recent uplift to Universal Credit will increase hardship and poverty for people who are already struggling.

‘To support the social and economic recovery, particularly as we ease out of the public health emergency, we urge you to reverse this decision and to strengthen the support offered by Universal Credit, instead of weakening it. We are concerned about the potential impact that reducing Universal Credit will have on child poverty, poverty levels and the financial health and well-being of people.’

In response to the letter, a government spokesperson told NewStart: ‘The temporary uplift to Universal Credit was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.

‘Universal Credit will continue to provide a vital safety net and with record vacancies available, alongside the successful vaccination rollout, it’s right that we now focus on our Plan for Jobs, helping claimants to increase their earnings by boosting their skills and getting into work, progressing in work or increasing their hours.’

Photo by Green Chameleon


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