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Keep the Universal Credit £20 week uplift and expand it to ESA, says JRF

09 September 2020

The £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit has been a lifeline for many claimants as they’ve struggled to get through the Coronavirus pandemic – but it’s due to end in April 2021.

To keep claimants and their families afloat, the Government must keep doing the right thing and keep the lifeline, says a new Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) briefing.

The JRF analysis finds that the withdrawal of the uplift will risk sweeping:

  • 700,000 more people, including 300,000 more children, into poverty; and
  • 500,000 more people could end up in deep poverty (more than 50% below the poverty line).

The JRF briefing also analyses the impact of the Government’s decision to exclude people claiming legacy benefits  from the uplift: 

"Our modelling also analyses the impact of the Government’s decision to exclude people claiming legacy benefits – Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and Income Support – from the £20 per week uplift.

Most of these claimants are sick or disabled people and carers, for whom heightened health risks, additional challenges associated with social distancing and the withdrawal of essential services has made life even more difficult.

Disabled people were also more likely to be in poverty heading into the pandemic and will likely come up against particularly difficult challenges in a contracting labour market.

It’s not right that members of our society who were most at risk during this pandemic did not get an equivalent lifeline. We agree with the Social Security Advisory Committee that continuing disparity between the rates of Universal Credit and equivalent legacy components will become increasingly untenable.”

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said:

"The Government is due to announce the benefit rates for 2021/2022 within a few months.

So this JRF report, with its detailed analysis and costings is welcome and timely.

DR UK stands alongside the JRF by calling on the Government to "keep the lifeline, strengthen social security and support the recovery by making the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent and extending it to legacy benefits”.

The JRF briefing Autumn Budget - why we must keep the £20 social security lifeline is available from jrf.org.uk

See also Government rejection of £20 per week increase to ESA is unacceptable says DR UK.