Paul Scully grilled by host on Universal Credit cuts
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With the recent publication of polling on the issue, the Chancellor is being slammed over his “dangerous and shameful” proposal to cancel the boost.
According to a YouGov poll commissioned by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), the vast majority of people in Scotland are in favour of keeping the increase to Universal Credit until at least the financial situation resulting from the pandemic has stabilised.
Some 28 percent of those surveyed believe the increase should be made permanent, while a further 35 percent agree that the uplift should stay in effect until the current financial situation is resolved.
Speaking to the Daily Record on the survey’s results, Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy outlined why the proposed cut would be harmful to communities across the UK.
She said: “It’s clear that the vast majority of people in Scotland support keeping the Universal Credit uplift.
“Thousands of people are struggling to make ends meet and poverty is rising.
“To go ahead and scrap the Universal Credit uplift while hundreds of thousands of people live in hardship – made worse by the pandemic – is both dangerous and shameful.”
Back in April 2021, the Government raised Universal Credit payments by £20 a week to help those struggling financially early into the pandemic.
Universal Credit: Rishi Sunak slammed over ‘dangerous’ UC cuts (Image: GETTY)
On top of this, Working Tax Credits also received a £20 boost as part of the Government’s support.
Recent statistics from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) confirmed that around five million people across the UK were claiming Universal Credit by February 2021.
However, during his Budget announcement earlier this year, Rishi Sunak announced the uptick will only last up to the end of September.
Theresa Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, confirmed this when she spoke to MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee on July 7.
“Ahead of October we will start communicating with the current claimants who receive the £20 to make them aware that it will be phased out and they will start to see an adjustment in their payments,” she explained.
Nina Ballantyne, CAS’ Social Justice spokesperson, explained why the increase to the benefit has been crucial for many families during the pandemic.
Ms Ballantyne said: “Increasing Universal Credit by £20 per week at the start of the pandemic was an absolute lifeline for people and a recognition that payments were too low.
“Cutting it would push hundreds of thousands of people into crisis.
“A clear majority of people support keeping the increase until at least we have recovered from the pandemic – and with furlough winding down in the autumn and a real risk of job losses, that recovery will not be overnight.
“Cutting Universal Credit by £20 per week would make it worth less in real terms in 2021 than it was when it was first introduced in 2013, despite the cost of living rising.
Universal Credit: £20 uplift during pandemic has supported many across the country (Image: GETTY)
“It also won’t help our economy, removing around half a billion pounds worth of spending power from people just when we need our economy to grow.
“There’s still time to cancel this cut, and ensure people get the support they need.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk, a UK Government spokesperson said: “The temporary Universal Credit uplift was brought in to support those with the lowest incomes during the pandemic.
“Our focus now is on our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs, which will help people learn new skills to progress in their career, increase their hours or find new work.
“Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has significant welfare powers and can top-up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits in areas of devolved responsibility.”
How you can claim Universal Credit
Those in need of support can start their Universal Credit application online through the Government’s website.
Claimants will need to provide their address, an email address, bank account information, details on income and savings, as well as proof of identity.
Currently, the standard allowance for those under 25 on Universal Credit is £344 a month, with over 25s receiving £411.51 a month.
Couples under 25 receive £490.66 under the benefits scheme at the moment, with couples over 25 getting £596.58.
However, it is vital claimants remain aware of potential changes to the amount they will receive, especially if they receive extra support from a pandemic support scheme.