Over 100 Tory MPs Urge Government To Make £20 Universal Credit Uplift Permanent
Two groups of Conservative MPs have called on Boris Johnson to keep the £20 Universal Credit uplift in place, with a former Cabinet minister warning that the Treasury's plan to remove it in September would be "a blow to possibly millions of people".
MPs in the Tory Reform Group and One Nation caucus, who include former ministers Stephen Hammond and George Freeman, have called on the government to keep the weekly increase in place in a new report recommending ways of helping the country recover from the pandemic.
The report, 'One Nation Pathway To Recovery', says the uplift has "thrown a vital lifeline to people on low incomes throughout the pandemic" and that taking it away later in the year would be a "mistake".
Former minister Damian Green, chair of the One Nation group of Tory MPs, said the governent plan to withdraw the additional welfare support in September would be "exactly the wrong thing to do".
"I worry that it will be a blow to possibly millions of people who are starting to get their lives back on track post-pandemic," the MP for Ashford told PoliticsHome.
"A lot more people are receiving Universal Credit than they used to, for obvious reasons.
"Many are hardworking people, trying to get up the ladder, trying to make something of their lives, and exactly who Conservatives like me want to help.Taking the support away from them later this year, possibly at a time when unemployment is going to rise, is exactly the wrong thing to do.
"I hope over the next six months we can convince the government to change its thinking on this."In March's Budget for 2021, Rishi Sunak extended the temporary £20-a-week uplift by six months.
However, the chancellor was said to be reluctant to maintain the uplift and changed his mind after pressure from campaign groups, opposition parties and several Conservative MPs.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation warned taking away the additional support in September as currently planned would push hundreds of thousands of people into poverty.
Campaigners stress that the removal of the uplift is due to coincide with the end of the furlough scheme in late September, when unemployment is expected to rise.
In their report, the Conservative MPs set out a number of policies which they say would help the people worst affected by the pandemic, including young people.
One of the suggestions is a £500 payment for all 18-24 year olds in the country, which groups estimate would cost around £2.8bn. Green said it would be a "bold and generous gesture" for a "generation that has really suffered" over the past year or so.
The report also calls for the government to shorten school summer holidays to "support left behind pupils" and restore its manifesto commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid, which Sunak scrapped in March to the consternation of several Conservative backbenchers.
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