Two-thirds ‘back keeping £20 a week Universal Credit uplift’

Citizens Advice Scotland has warned that cutting the payment could push people into crisis.

Two-thirds ‘back keeping £20 a week Universal Credit uplift’ PA Media

Nearly two-thirds of Scots back keeping the £20-per-week Universal Credit uplift in place at least until the economy improves, a poll has suggested.

Some 35% of people surveyed by YouGov supported keeping the cash in place until the financial situation created by the pandemic “is more stable” while 28% said it should be made permanent.

The UK Government increased Universal Credit by £1040 per year at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, but plans to cut the payment in September.

Figures suggest the uplift supports almost half a million people in Scotland, said Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), which commissioned the polling.

The charity said its previous research showed cutting the £20 per week would reduce the value of the benefit in real terms below what it was worth when it was first introduced in 2013, despite the cost of living rising.

CAS social justice spokeswoman Nina Ballantyne said: “Increasing Universal Credit by £20 per week at the start of the pandemic was an absolute lifeline for people and a recognition that payments were too low.

“Cutting it would push hundreds of thousands of people into crisis.

“A clear majority of people support keeping the increase until at least we have recovered from the pandemic – and with furlough winding down in the autumn and a real risk of job losses, that recovery will not be overnight.

“There’s still time to cancel this cut and ensure people get the support they need.”

Some 1007 adults were surveyed online between May 20 and 25, with the figures weighted and representative of all Scottish adults.

Some 10% of respondents said the uplift should end sooner than September, 11% said it should end in September and 16% answered “don’t know”.

A UK Government spokesman said: “The temporary Universal Credit uplift was brought in to support those with the lowest incomes during the pandemic.

“Our focus now is on our multibillion-pound Plan For Jobs, which will help people learn new skills to progress in their career, increase their hours or find new work.

“Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has significant welfare powers and can top up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits in areas of devolved responsibility.”

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