Therese Coffey says people could just work two more hours each week if they want to make up for the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift being scrapped
- Therese Coffey suggested more hours could make up for UC uplift being axed
- Work and Pensions Secretary defended dropping temporary £20-a-week hike
- Labour warned that the handouts were a ‘lifeline’ to many struggling families
Therese Coffey today defended scrapping the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift suggesting people could work two extra hours to make up the money.
The Work and Pensions Secretary said the increase had always been a ‘temporary’ part of the response to the pandemic and insisted she is ‘entirely happy’ with it going.
The comments came amid growing calls to keep the higher level in place to avoid heaping further pressure on struggling families.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said the policy was ‘wrong’ and the handouts were a ‘lifeline’ for many people.
The backlash has been fuelled by Boris Johnson’s massive £12billion national insurance hike.
But Ms Coffey told BBC Breakfast: ‘I’m conscious that £20 a week is about two hours’ extra work every week – we will be seeing what we can do to help people perhaps secure those extra hours, but ideally also to make sure they’re also in a place to get better paid jobs as well.’
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told BBC Breakfast the Universal Credit increase had always been a ‘temporary’ part of the response to the pandemic
Shadow child poverty secretary Wes Streeting condemned Ms Coffey’s remarks
Pressed about asking people to work longer, Ms Coffey said: ‘It’s a temporary uplift recognising the reason that it was introduced is coming to an end.’
She also said the nation is ‘seeing record numbers of vacancies’.
Asked if she is entirely happy with the end of the uplift, which will start to be phased out from the end of the month, Ms Coffey said ‘yes’ and stressed the need to ‘accelerate our plan for jobs’.
Labour MPs condemned her remarks, with shadow child poverty secretary Wes Streeting tweeting: ‘For these working families, this will HURT. More children will end up in poverty. Yet Therese Coffey is ‘entirely happy’.’
The increase will be phased out from the end of the month, based on individual claimants’ payment dates.
Recipients could lose £1,040 annually if Prime Minister Boris Johnson goes ahead with the cut.
Boris Johnson (centre) and Chancellor Rishi Sunak (right) have insisted the axing of the Universal Credit uplift will go ahead despite protestst