DWP refuse to publish analysis of £20 week Universal Credit uplift ‘as it is not in the public interest’

Sun,18 July 2021
News Benefits

The Poverty Alliance has written to Therese Coffey MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, after the DWP refused to disclose any analysis that it has undertaken on the potential impact on poverty of cutting the weekly Universal Credit £20 uplift from October 2021.

The Poverty Alliance is a  network of Scottish organisations and individuals working together to end poverty.

The refusal came after a Freedom of Information request by the Alliance, with the DWP reply that the disclosure of the information to ‘not be in the public interest’.

In its letter to the Secretary of State, the Poverty Alliance says:

“On 27 May, we submitted a Freedom of Information request to your department, requesting any analysis that you have undertaken on the potential impact on poverty of withdrawing the £20 uplift.  

The response from your department cited section 35(1) of the Freedom of Information Act. This meant that we were denied the disclosure of information and told that it was not in the public interest for it to be released.

However, we believe that it is clearly in the public interest to know whether this decision will deepen poverty for thousands of people across our country. We urge you to sanction the release of this analysis so that the public understand the likely impact of this decision.”

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.

He added:

 “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.”

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

“The DWP’s refusal to publish this information is deeply worrying and sets a dangerous precedent.

There can be no justification for withholding information on how the removal of the £20 week UC uplift will have on its 6 million claimants.

It implies that the grounds for introducing the uplift still exist and the DWP knows this.

It also implies making this public will mean an even bigger backlash to its removal and more support for the calls for a £20 uplift to legacy benefits.”

The Poverty Alliance Letter to Therese Coffey  is available from povertyalliance.org.

See also our related news story Scrapping £20 week UC uplift slams the door in the face of six million.