Make Up Lost £20 Universal Credit Uplift By Working Longer Hours, Says Work And Pensions Secretary

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 07, 2021: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Therese Coffey (Photo: Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 07, 2021: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Therese Coffey (Photo: Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

The work and pensions secretary has suggested Universal Credit claimants can make up the lost £20-a-week uplift by working longer hours.

Therese Coffey said the boost was equivalent to around “two hours” extra work every week.

She made the comments as the temporary £20 uplift - introduced in response to the pandemic - is due to officially end on October 6.

Coffey defended its end, stressing the need to “accelerate our plan for jobs”.

Separately, the secretary of state also admitted not being aware of a HMRC report warning a hike in national insurance could increase the likelihood of family breakdown for those already on the breadline.

Coffey told BBC Breakfast: ”£20-a-week is about two hours extra work every week, we’ll be seeing what we can do to help people perhaps secure those extra hours.

“But ideally also to make sure they’re in a place to get better paid jobs as well. And that’s where elements of the £650 billion in infrastructure projects, supporting 425,000 jobs.

“We want to try and help people get on into those better paid jobs, often in construction but other elements as well that go alongside these big major projects.”

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Pressed on whether claimants losing the uplift should work longer hours, she replied: “I was saying that it’s a temporary uplift recognising the reason it was introduced, that’s come to an end, that reason.

“We’re seeing record numbers of vacancies, we’re seeing elements of employment continuing to go up and I’m confident that we can do the 27,000 work coaches that we have right around the country - we’ll be helping people not only get back into work, but to progress in work as well.”

She made the comments after a HMRC report outlined how Boris Johnson’s plan to increase national insurance by 1.25 percentage points would be “significant” on economic factors such as earnings, inflation and company profits.

The report emerged after MPs approved the rise on Wednesday. The levy is designed to tackle the NHS backlog and fund social care reform, on Wednesday.

Coffey told LBC’s Nick Ferrari she “absolutely” still backed the 1.25 per cent levy.

Pressed on the HMRC report, which featured on the front page of the Sunday Telegraph, she replied: “I’m not aware of it, thank you for bringing it to my attention. I’m not sure I agree with the assertion that is made.”

The report warned: “There may be an impact on family formation, stability or breakdown as individuals, who are currently just about managing financially, will see their disposable income reduce.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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