Rishi_Sunak, Tory chancellor

Chancellor Taken to Task Over Failing to Make Universal Credit Increase Permanent

The SNP’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary has criticised Rishi Sunak (pictured) for failing thousands by refusing to confirm he will maintain the £20 increase to Universal Credit – which has been a lifeline for many – beyond April 2021, and extend it to legacy benefits.

On Thursday, the Tory Chancellor announced the UK government’s Winter Economic Plan, which the SNP has said fails to deliver anywhere near the scale of investment needed to save jobs and strengthen the social security net to help those who will lose jobs.

Leading anti-poverty charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, earlier this month published a report setting out how the £20 increase has been a lifeline for families during the coronavirus crisis and called for it to be made permanent and extended to legacy benefits to strengthen the social security net alongside the SNP.

The SNP has repeatedly called on the UK government to take action to rebuild the social security net – after the Tories spent a decade dismantling it with deep austerity cuts.

Commenting, Neil Gray MP said

“The Chancellor had an opportunity on Thursday to do what is right and maintain this lifeline, as well as extend the increase to legacy benefits, and he refused to take it.

“Maintaining this increase beyond next April has become even more vital now that the UK government has failed to extend the furlough scheme and deliver the investment needed to save jobs – including the 61,000 that could be saved in Scotland if these measures were taken.

“In their most recent report, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has put forward the case for maintaining and extending the increase that is impossible to argue against.

“Taking this action would be a good first step in rebuilding the social security net but far more needs to be done if they are to make up for the damage caused by ten years of brutal austerity cuts.

“With unemployment rising – and set to rise further once the furlough scheme ends in October – and people’s working hours and incomes being cut back, it is more pressing than ever that the proper financial support is forthcoming.

“I am urging Rishi Sunak to rethink this decision to stop the Universal Credit increase in April and its extension to legacy benefits to prevent thousands more people being pushed into, or further into, hardship.

“If the Tories fail to act, the inequality gap will widen, people will fall into or further into debt and hardship, and millions will face or continue to live in poverty.”