Universal Credit uplift set to be extended while Covid restrictions last and then given to the poorest
THE £20 pandemic cash boost for Universal Credit will likely be extended while Covid restrictions are in place and then phased out to target only the poorest, The Sun has learnt.
Boris Johnson has stepped into a growing Cabinet rift to demand a "middle way" to avoid a cliff edge when the benefit bump expires at the end of March.
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It has been seen as a lifeline to Britain’s poorest families and adds an extra £1,040 to claimants’ income.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak does not want to make the £6billion uplift permanent but is under mounting pressure from MPs and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey to change his mind.
He says it would cost the equivalent of a penny on income tax for 30 million Brits, and a 5p hike in fuel duty to fill the black hole in Britain's battered finances.
Now Boris Johnson is poised to step into the row to demand the pair find “a middle way” to the problem that avoids a painful cliff edge this summer.
A Government source said tonight: "It's not a binary choice between extending or not. All options remain on the table and ministers are working through them to find the best solution for families and those on lower incomes."
It is understood Mr Sunak plans to announce at the Budget that the full measure will stay for a long as Covid restrictions are in place, before being phased out to only help the neediest.
He has considered easing the pain of the withdrawal with a one of cash bonus of £500 to ease the pain, but his allies reject reports that could rise to even £1,000.
Many Tory MPs have privately voiced concerns about such a move, suggesting it would be unfair to lower earning voters who do not claim Universal Credit.
One told The Sun: “Why favour welfare claimants rather that soldiers, doctors, police, nurses and teachers. If anyone deserves a pandemic bonus it is them.”
Today Therese Coffey said: “Universal Credit has been a lifeline to people who may have never been on benefits before.
"I'm conscious that we want to continue to try and extend our support throughout the impact of this pandemic.
"It's fair to say I'm in active discussion with the Chancellor and of course with the PM about how we continue to make sure we support families during this difficult time."
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