People who lose £20 a week from their Universal Credit payments under UK Government plans could work extra hours to make up for the cut, work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey has suggested.
The Cabinet minister on Monday defended the move to end the increase introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic by saying it had always been “temporary”.
But there have been calls to keep the extra money in place amid concern that the plans will heap further pressure on struggling families.
Coffey told BBC Breakfast: “I’m conscious that £20 a week is about two hours’ extra work every week – we will be seeing what we can do to help people perhaps secure those extra hours, but ideally also to make sure they’re also in a place to get better paid jobs as well.”
Pressed about asking people to work longer, Coffey said: “It’s a temporary uplift recognising the reason that it was introduced is coming to an end.”
She also said the nation is “seeing record numbers of vacancies”.
Asked if she is entirely happy with the end of the uplift, which will start to be phased out from the end of the month, Coffey said “yes” and stressed the need to “accelerate our plan for jobs”.
Labour MPs criticised her remarks, with shadow child poverty secretary Wes Streeting tweeting: “For these working families, this will HURT. More children will end up in poverty. Yet Therese Coffey is ‘entirely happy’.”
The increase will be phased out from the end of the month, based on individual claimants’ payment dates.
Recipients could lose £1040 annually if Prime Minister Boris Johnson goes ahead with the cut.