During the interview on Sky News this morning, Business Minister Paul Scully said the £6billion it has cost to pay for the Universal Credit uplift of £20 a week would have to be recovered from somewhere if it was kept in place. However, he added that it was unfair to penalise the poorest in society and keep “giving with one hand and taking and increasing taxes with the other”.
Speaking on Sky News this morning Mr Scully said: “The Chancellor will look at the whole aspect of public finances in the Budget and the Spending Review that is coming up.
“But if you were to reverse the Universal Credit as it is, you would have to put up income tax by the equivalent of a penny and three pence on fuel.”
This follows news yesterday that Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire clashed with the Business Minister over the Universal Credit cut, accusing the Government of attempting to “starve working-class families” in a debate on BBC Politics.
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But controversial plans to scrap the uplift look set to go ahead in just over a week’s time unless Boris Johnson caves into this pressure.
It’s feared that up to 1.5 million working people could be forced into hardship this winter if the Prime Minister’s plans to remove the £20 uplift get the green light.
This is according to research carried out by Citizens Advice which says that two-thirds of working claimants are bracing themselves to face hardship when the uplift is abolished at the end of the month.
The organisation said as many as 600,000 working Universal Credit (UC) claimants are worried they might not be able to afford food or other basic necessities like toiletries after the reduction in their income is introduced.
Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “With energy bills set to rise and family finances already stretched to the limit, this cut is coming at the worst possible time.”
Universal Credit is a benefit for people out of work and those on a low income and it is overseen by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The £1,040 per year uplift was brought in in 2020 to help those hit financially survive after many lost their jobs or experienced a significant drop in income during the pandemic.
It’s been a lifeline for many helping them to pay for everyday costs and make ends meet.
Boris Johnson says that the Universal Credit uplift was only meant to be temporary and will come to an end at the close of September.
However, a campaign group has warned the Government that it could be in breach of international human rights obligations.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has written to more than 350 MPs representing varying areas of the UK, urging them to take action on the matter.
It has urged them to do everything they can to prevent the proposed cut from going ahead once Parliament is back in session next week because it says the UK could be in violation of the UN’s International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).