During this pandemic our Government has gone further than any other in its efforts to protect jobs and support the livelihoods of millions of families. The scale of the response and the speed with which key parts of the safety net were put in place have been widely praised.
Of particular importance was the decision to increase the Standard Allowance of Universal Credit by £20 per week. While furlough has been crucially important in holding down the increase in redundancies, it is Universal Credit that has kept many families afloat during this difficult period by supporting those on the lowest incomes.
In just over six weeks, the temporary £20 per week uplift is due to come to an end. It was intended as a twelve month measure to help support families through a short but dramatic fall in output and employment. Since that decision was made, it has become clear that the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 emergency measures will last for considerably longer than originally foreseen.
However, I am pressing the Prime Minister to consider at the very least a 12 month extension to the uplift from April. A twelve month extension would allow time for the Government to assess the full impact of this pandemic on our social security system and develop proposals for ensuring working-age benefits are set at appropriate levels and with the right work incentives.