Ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith launches last-ditch effort to save £20 a week Universal Credit uplift as he urges Boris Johnson to keep the extra cash in place over the winter
- Ministers increased Universal Credit payments by £20 a week during pandemic
- But the increase in universal credit will formally end this Wednesday
- Iain Duncan Smith said the extra cash should be kept in place over the winter
- Said it would be ‘better to wait’ before saving money amid cost of living pressures
Sir Iain Duncan Smith launched a last-ditch effort today to convince the government to keep a £20 a week increase in the value of Universal Credit.
The former Tory leader pressured Boris Johnson to do a U-turn, saying it was “right” to keep the extra money in place.
He said that ‘even if the government is determined to do this’, ministers should postpone the cut until after the winter months.
The ex-cabinet minister said it would be “much better to wait and see where we are in February or March,” ahead of the spring budget amid mounting pressure on the cost of living.
The revival is set to formally end this Wednesday, when Johnson will address the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith made a last ditch effort today to convince the government to keep a £20 a week increase in the value of Universal Credit
The former Tory leader pressured Boris Johnson to do a U-turn, saying it was ‘right’ to keep the extra money in place
The additional money was made available last year to help claimants weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ministers have always insisted that the increase – worth £1,040 a year – was only temporary.
Maintaining the increase would cost the Treasury an estimated £6 billion each year.
Johnson has faced continued pressure from senior Tory MPs to keep the money in place amid fears that the withdrawal of aid will now hit struggling families as energy prices rise.
Sir Iain, who was the architect of Universal Credit reforms when he was Minister for Work and Pensions, told Sky News this morning that ministers should at the very least delay the cut.
He said, “I think it’s right to keep this investment in Universal Credit. It has become a huge success.
“Of all the things that went wrong during the pandemic, Universal Credit is the only one that started quietly and helped people without having to queue at job centers.”
He added: “Even if the government is determined to do this, I would urge them to think about this over the winter period, not do it now, and reconsider in February, March.” when they are approaching the budget, when they know what the cost of living is, when they know what inflation is, when they know what the difficulties are in the market.
“It’s much better to wait and see where we are, because we know it’s going in the wrong direction in those terms and that’s going to hit the poorest in society the most. We must ensure that we maintain the support measures for them.’
Labor is also calling on the government to reverse the austerity measures.
Jonathan Reynolds, shadow work and pensions minister, told The Sunday Mirror: “The government needs to learn lessons from the pandemic, cancel the UC cut and use our recovery to better prepare for future challenges.”
A government spokesman said: ‘We have always made it clear that the Universal Credit increase and the leave scheme were temporary.
“They were designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the worst stages of the pandemic, and they have done so.
Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support to both those in and out of work, and vulnerable households across the country will have access to a new £500 million support fund to help them with essential needs in the coming months as the country continues its efforts. continues. recovery from the pandemic.’