The Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered a Spending Review in the House of Commons yesterday, where he signalled a number of government spending plans from April 2021 to 2022. Following his speech, Mr Sunak was challenged about his failure to address whether or not he would extend the Universal Credit uplift.
Responding to the Chancellor’s Spending Review, Helen Barnard, Director of the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “It is deeply disappointing that the Chancellor is leaving millions to wait out the winter in fear and uncertainty with no reassurance forthcoming that he would not cut Universal Credit as planned in April.
“There is no conceivable scenario in which this support will not be needed, and inaction risks a sharp rise in poverty.
“The Government also seems to have definitively decided not to help disabled people and carers on legacy benefits who are now facing another year of higher costs and an even greater struggle to get work with no extra help.
“It’s not too late for the Chancellor to do the right thing.
“We urge the Government in the strongest terms to correct its course and commit to making the £20 uplift permanent and extend it to legacy benefits at the earliest opportunity.”
Addressing the Chancellor’s plans for housing, Ms Barnard continued: “The decision to freeze help with housing costs risks pushing families into poverty and takes away the link to real rents when calculating uplifts.
“To properly fix the housing crisis the Chancellor could have committed to increase the supply of social housing, with a particular focus on homes for social rent over the next five years.”
Today, Mr Sunak was asked to pledge to extend the uplift, during an interview on Good Morning Britain.
He replied: “What we did at the beginning of this crisis was put in place lots of different support to help people.
“That was one of the elements of that set of interventions.
“It obviously has made a difference this year, but it lasts all the way through to next spring as you’ve said, which means we don’t need to make a decision on it now.
“And in fact, given the economic uncertainty, it wouldn’t be right to make a decision on it now.
“It’s better to see where we are when we get through the winter period. Let’s see where we are with the economy, our recovery, where we are with restrictions, and decide then what the best way to support people is.
“But in the meantime, next year what we’ve said is we’re going to maintain he £1billion uplift in Local Housing Allowance which helps people with their bills. A million people are benefitting from that.
“We’ve also put aside £670million which will help 3.5 million households pay their Council Tax bills.”
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays on ITV from 6am.