Thank you for contacting me regarding the Universal Credit uplift. I firmly believe the £20-a week uplift to Universal Credit should not be cut and am urging Government to make this uplift permanent.
The UC uplift was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those likely to be facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. The Government has also introduced measures such as mortgage holidays and additional support for renters, and has worked with energy suppliers to protect those struggling with energy bills.
I believe that it would be in the best interests of the government and the country to make this a permanent fixture. I am fully supportive of making this increase permanent and I would like to assure you that I will continue to make representation to continue this scheme.
Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, quick action has been taken to support families. Over 11.5m people have been kept in their jobs through the furlough scheme, while welfare changes worth over £9 billion were quickly introduced, including through a temporary uplift in Universal Credit worth up to £1,040 a year. The £500m local authority hardship fund was established and a £63 million local welfare assistance fund was also created so that councils can help those struggling to afford food and other essentials. While some of the help you mention was instigated at the start of the pandemic, further support has been introduced as it has progressed. As you would expect, discussions are ongoing across government about the best way to support people.
The benefit cap allows for a yearly income of £20,000 outside of London, and £23,000 within London, and I am not aware of plans to change this. These amount are equivalent to a taxable salary of about £24,000 or £28,000 respectively. However, I would emphasise that claimants with a sustained employment record may benefit from a nine-month grace period before the cap applies. Exemptions also apply for the most vulnerable claimants who are entitled to disability benefits and carer benefits.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.