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Government must end “crippling uncertainty” over £20 per week uplift to UC and legacy benefits, say coalition of 60 organisations

01 December 2020

Over 60 organisations have issued a public statement expressing their “deep concern” at the failure of the Government to announce that they are making the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent and extending it to legacy benefits including ESA.

The Coalition includes the Disability Benefits Consortium, of which DR UK is a member.

The public statement says that a “glaring omission” in last week’s Government Spending Review and annual benefit uprating decision was any announcement on the future of the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit.

It adds:

“We are deeply concerned that the Government has chosen to leave millions of people with crippling uncertainty and fear over Christmas, facing the prospect of being plunged into even greater hardship next year.

Costs have shot up; job opportunities are scarce and our economy will still be in deep recession next Spring. Even with the additional support this year, families have faced mounting debt and hardship; now they face the prospect of the lifeline of the £20 uplift being whipped away in April.”

The £20 week uplifting to UC and legacy benefits policy has attracted commands considerable cross-party support, including the Work & Pensions Committee, Treasury Committee, Lords Economic Affairs Committee, former Conservative Work & Pensions Secretaries as well as opposition parties and faith leaders.

New analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that 6.2 million families will feel a £1,040 a year cut to their incomes overnight and 500,000 people – including 200,000 children – are at risk of being swept into poverty.

The Coalition says that although, the Government has now said they will review the £20 uplift in the New Year, the DWP says it takes months to action any changes in benefit rates for people on legacy benefits - ESA, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support.

The public statement concludes:

“The absence of any announcement on the £20 uplift this week suggests that the Government does not intend to extend this lifeline to legacy benefits – meaning that disabled people and carers will be left, once again, without help as they face rising costs, increased barriers to work and heightened risks from the pandemic.

Sick and disabled people and carers already faced much higher risks of poverty, a situation which has only been made worse by having to face a global pandemic without sufficient support. It is simply not right that disabled families have been more likely to go without essentials including food during this health crisis.”

Ken Butler DRUK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said:   

“By restricting the £20 per week increase only to Universal Credit the Government continues to discriminate against the millions of disabled people on other benefits. Even before the Covid-19 crisis, benefit cuts and austerity hit disabled people the hardest.

"The question a responsible Government should consider is: are those on ESA, JSA and income support facing significant extra costs due to the pandemic like those on Universal Credit?

"The answer is clearly yes - so the £20 increase should also be payable to them.”

The public statement - Coalition warns it would be a terrible mistake to cut the £20 uplift to Universal Credit - is available from www.jrf.org.uk

See also Government refuses to commit to keeping or extending the £20 week uplift to Universal Credit available from www.disabilityrightsuk.org.