Boris Johnson has raised fears he could cut universal credit by 20 per week from April.
The Prime Minister alluded to a reduction in the cost of living, which millions of people rely on.
The coronavirus crisis has had a huge impact on people’s finances and universal credit has received an increase of around 1,040 per year.
But now the Prime Minister is facing desperate appeals not to remove nearly a fifth of the 5.7 million people from the base allowance.
On January 13, he said he “would rather focus on jobs and wage growth than on welfare.”
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He added that the best thing to do is find a job “- despite the fact that 39% of the 5.7 million people receiving universal credit in October were already employed, reports The Mirror.
Although the benefit has been increased by 1,040 for the 2020/21 fiscal year following the pandemic, the government plans to reduce the basic monthly allowance from 409.89 to 324.84 on April 12.
Any decision to keep the rate higher can only be made in the March budget – and would add $ 6 billion a year to government spending.
Speaking about the Prime Minister at the Commons Liaison Committee, Labor MP Stephen Timms urged him to keep the hike up.
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Mr Timms said that thanks to the rise, many claimants were finally able to shop at supermarkets again, rather than food banks.
The MP said: “Isn’t it unfair to leave this until March before we find out if this reduction is underway?”
Mr Johnson stressed that any final rate is still under review – but has declined calls to end the agony of families now.
He said, “I understand your point of view. I think what we want to see are jobs. We want to see people working, we want to see the economy bounce back.
I think most people in this country would rather focus on jobs and wage growth than on welfare.
“But it is clear that we need to keep all of these things under review.”
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds tweeted: “Universal credit is also an employment benefit. Please learn it as it affects millions of families.
“That fundamental point aside, it is the incompetence and indecision of governments that has caused the worst recession of any major economy.”
Mr Johnson has also rejected calls to increase ‘legacy’ benefits for people with disabilities – which will increase by 35 pence a week in April – at the UC rate.
The Prime Minister said: “We want everyone to switch to universal credit, it is an efficient system.”
He does not seem to know that people with severe disabilities are not yet able to access universal credit.
Sir Keir Starmer and a former Tory welfare chief have urged the PM to extend the increase.
Former Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb said last week: “Now is not the time to weaken our social safety net.
“Giving lower income families greater security for the year ahead by increasing, rather than reducing support, is the right thing to do.”
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