Published: 15:48, 29 July 2021
| Updated: 19:12, 29 July 2021
The UK Government is “not done helping people” despite ending the £20 uplift in Universal Credit, Rishi Sunak has said.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the benefit uplift was always meant to be a temporary measure, adding that the latest labour market data was “really positive”.
The end of the Universal Credit uplift on September 30 is expected to affect the incomes of about six million families.
Opposition politicians, union leaders and anti-poverty campaigners have all urged ministers to make the £20 weekly uplift permanent.
During a visit to Scotland on Thursday, Mr Sunak saw a demonstration wind turbine at the ORE Catapult facility in Methil, Fife, as well as meeting other business leaders involved in the renewable energy sector.
The Chancellor said the green energy sector was “so important” to the future economy.
Asked about the end of the £20 uplift, he said: “That was always meant to be a temporary intervention, that was clear from the outset.
“Like furlough and the other things we’ve done, some will start to ease off.
“But we’re not done helping people get through this.”
He said the Government’s Kickstart scheme was “a great example of us using our muscle, using the might of the Government to help particularly young people find new work”.
Asked about families who may find themselves in poverty when the uplift ends, he said: “There’s lots of different ways we can help those people.
“What we’re doing is providing support in a way that will sustainably help those people.
“I think the right thing is to help those families into really high-paid work, that’s the best way to help those children.
“We know that children growing up in a workless household are five times more likely to be in poverty than those that don’t.
“That tells me that the best way to help those children is to help their parents find really good jobs.”
Mr Sunak also discussed the phasing-out of the furlough scheme, saying it had saved “millions of jobs” but the Government’s focus was now on getting people back into work.
He added: “All the data we’re seeing about the labour market is really positive.
“A year ago people were expecting unemployment in our country to peak at 12%, 1980s levels.
“If you asked them now, they think it will peak at a level half of that – that’s two million people fewer out of work than we feared a year ago.
“Unemployment in this country is lower than in most of our competitor nations.”