The government has rejected calls for the £20 uplift to universal credit to be retained. This will result, according to Lib Dem councillor Mark Wilkes, in over 52,000 people across the County losing over £1000 in income from the end of next month.
In July Durham County Councillor Mark Wilkes got agreement from the Joint Administration running the Council for it to write to the government to ask that they halt the withdrawal of the £20 uplift to universal credit, which was introduced last year to help people during the pandemic.
Cllr Wilkes says, “The pressures on low income families have not gone away. If anything there are more pressures with rising prices. Universal Credit is paid to a huge number of people who are working in our county. Removing this uplift is going to have a significant impact on the County taking over £52million out of the local economy at a time when it needs it.”
“The government doesn’t seem to realise that taking over £1000 out of the pockets of those on the lowest incomes is going to massively impact on attempts to level up across the poorer parts of the UK and in particular the North East.”
Many Conservative MPs as well as six former conservative welfare secretaries have also called on the government to retain the uplift in recent months.
In the response sent to Durham County Council from the government welfare minister Will Quince he said, “The Government has always been clear that the £20 increase was a temporary measure to support households affected by the economic shock of COVID-19.”
Cllr Wilkes challenging this responded saying “The leaders of the council had asked for it to be retained to make sure there wasn’t a detrimental impact on those receiving it. I am absolutely certain that scrapping the uplift is going to cost the government and the Council more money, down the line, than it will save.”
“We urge the Government to reconsider this decision and recognise the disproportionate impact this is going to have on those areas of the Country they say they want to level up.”
Cllr Mark Wilkes
Minister Rejects Call to Keep £20 Universal Credit Uplift