A letter from the UK’s three devolved Governments has been sent to the UK Government’s Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, expressing “grave concerns” regarding plans to withdraw a £20-per-week increase to Universal Credit.
The letter, jointly signed by the Welsh Government’s Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt, Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government Shona Robison, and the Northern Ireland Executive’s Minister for Communities Deidre Hargey, says:
We are writing to express the grave concerns of all three devolved administrations regarding your Department’s upcoming plans to withdraw support to the poorest in our society by allowing the £20-per-week increase to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits to expire.
…this planned reduction means the biggest overnight reduction to a basic rate of social security since the modern welfare state began, more than 70 years ago. Failing to maintain the recent uplift to Universal Credit will increase hardship and poverty for people who are already struggling.
To support the social and economic recovery, particularly as we ease out of the public health emergency, we urge you to reverse this decision and to strengthen the support offered by Universal Credit, instead of weakening it.
We are concerned about the potential impact that reducing Universal Credit will have on child poverty, poverty levels and the financial health and well-being of people.
The letter also questions the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) stated position that the decision not to further extend or make permanent the £20-per-week increase to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits is to encourage people into work.
Latest UK Government statistics show that of the 6 million people on Universal Credit, 2.2 million are already working and 1.6 million are not required to work due to health and caring responsibilities that prevent them from seeking employment.
The letter queries:
...how failing to maintain the uplift to Universal Credit for households in these situations encourages people into work, and are concerned about the need to ensure that it provides them with adequate financial support that takes into account their personal circumstances.