Changes to Universal Credit – how much could you be losing?

Coffey questioned on Universal Credit uplift and legacy benefits

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The government brought in temporary changes to Universal Credit to help those impacted by the pandemic. But, as the government forges ahead with its plan to return to a “new normal”, they have announced that the rise to Universal Credit brought in at the start of the Covid Crisis would be phased out. What will this mean for those claiming this benefit?

The pandemic has left many out of work and so millions of Brits have had to turn to Universal Credit for financial support.

The amount of Britons claiming Universal Credit doubled throughout the pandemic.

The number of people claiming this benefit in the UK lept from three million in March 2020 to six million in January this year.

How much will Universal Credit be reduced by?

Today the government has confirmed the £20 a week increase in Universal Credit will be phased out in the Autumn.

They say the extra money was brought in as a temporary emergency spending measure during the Covid crisis, it was not intended to be a permanent rise.

Over the course of the pandemic, the number of people claiming this benefit has risen massively and for many that £20 extra a week was a much-needed form of financial support.

This will equate to a reduction of a £1000 a year for those who have been receiving it.

The government said the rise was a form of temporary assistance brought in because of the pandemic and it would be phased out in line with the removal of all pandemic measures.

The Treasury said £9 billion has been spent on helping up to six million Brits during the pandemic and the cut to Universal Credit will only come three months after restrictions on daily life are lifted.

This phasing out of the rise to Universal Credit has come under criticism.

Earlier this week six former Conservative Work and Pensions Secretaries all urged the payment rise to remain.

They said removing it would damage living standards, health and work opportunities for those who need it most.

They added it would undermine Boris Johnson’s “levelling up” agenda to help left-behind communities.

The minister for welfare delivery Will Quince said that claims the cut to Universal Credit will push thousands of families below the poverty line were “purely speculative”.

Mr Quince said: “Projecting the impact of an individual policy on poverty levels is complex and inherently speculative.

“It is difficult to isolate the specific impact of one policy and determine its effect on how many people fall below the poverty threshold, which itself changes over time.”

The charity Turn2Us said the reduction could see half a million Brits “pulled into poverty overnight”.

Those claiming Universal Credit will continue to get the higher payment until April 2022.

After this time, it will be reduced back to its pre-pandemic level.

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