The Department for Work and Pensions has come under fire after more MPs protested against the end of a £20 boost for Universal Credit claimants.
Secretary Therese Coffey as well as ministers Mims Davies and Will Quince took part in a series of questions and answers at the House of Commons on Monday afternoon (November 30).
Mr Quince revealed that a total of 5.8 million people are now in receipt of Universal Credit.
They were asked about several Universal Credit emergency measures, including the minimum income floor suspension and the future of the now controversial £20 boost, which are due to end in the next few months.
These are the dates you need to remember:
£20 boost – review in the new year
Universal Credit was increased by £20 a week at the start of the pandemic but the future of the boost in uncertain at this stage.
Extending the credit would cost £6 billion, with lobbyists calling for the cash boost to be made permanent.
Today, shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds asked how it can be right to cut Universal Credit during the “biggest economic crisis for 300 years”.
He said: “Last week, the Chancellor (Rishi Sunak) said this was the biggest economic crisis for 300 years, and he’s right.
“So what I cannot understand is how those same Spending Review documents show the Government cutting Universal Credit next April – a £1,000 a year cut taken from six million families just when they need it most.
“(Therese Coffey), no government since the great depression has cut unemployment benefits during a crisis. So how can the biggest economic crisis for 300 years be the time to do so?”
Ms Coffey responded: “As (Mr Reynolds) knows, the Government did introduce a raft of temporary measures to support those hardest hit, including the furlough scheme, self-employed income support scheme and the £20 UC uplift.
“The Chancellor has confirmed that the UC uplift until March 2021 and it’s right that we wait for more clarity on the national economic and social picture before assessing the best way to support low-income families moving forward.”
Mr Quince added: “The Chancellor has confirmed the Universal Credit uplift until March 2021 and it is right that we wait for more clarity on the national economic and social picture before assessing the best way to support low-income families moving forward.
“The uplift is just one part of a comprehensive package of support that we have put in place to support people through this most difficult of periods.”
SNP MP Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) also called on the Government to extend the £20 uplift, saying the Chancellor left households deeply concerned as they face the prospect of a cut to this vital lifeline in spring.
Ms Coffey confirmed that the issue will be reviewed in the new year.
She said: “She will be aware that the temporary extension of the £20 Universal Credit uplift was made in line with the fiscal measures made earlier this year … but as has been indicated we will continue to look at this matter again in the New Year.”
Minimum income floor suspension – end of April 2021
Steve Double, Conservative MP for St Austell and Newquay, asked what steps Department is taking to support self-employed Universal Credit claimants during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Ms Davies confirmed the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) for self-employed Universal Credit claimants will remain suspended until the end of April 2021.
The suspension means self-employed people will continue to receive financial support from Universal Credit based on their current actual earnings.
Ms Davies said: “The minimum income floor, the MIF, Mr Speaker, was first suspended in March this year
“We have now extended the suspension until the end of April 2021. This provides vital support for our self-employed claimants via insuring they receive a full UC award during these uncertain times.”