Downing Street is ending the Universal Credit uplift on Wednesday in “the biggest overnight cut to benefits in history”, according to an independent think tank chief.
The government is taking away the extra £20-a-week awarded to those on Universal Credit during the pandemic in a bid to incentivise people to work.
Torsten Bell, chief executive of Resolution Foundations and former adviser to Labour’s ex-leader Ed Miliband, explained why this weekly £20 has been a lifeline to some people.
On Tuesday, he tweeted: “Tomorrow, 4,4 million households with 5.1 million adults and 3.5 million children, will see their incomes fall by £1,000 overnight.
“For one million households that will mean an immediate loss of over 10% of their income as we take the basic rate of benefits to its lowest level since 1990.”
Tomorrow 4.4 million households, with 5.1m adults and 3.5m children, will see their incomes fall by £1,000 overnight. For 1 million households that will mean an immediate loss of over 10% of their income as we take the basic rate of benefits to its lowest level since 1990
— Torsten Bell (@TorstenBell) October 5, 2021
He then added: “Whatever this is, it’s not building back better.
“I didn’t think the government would press ahead with the biggest overnight cut to benefits in history. I was wrong.”
The cut comes amid rising petrol prices due to the fuel crisis, rising energy prices and predictions of major shortages around Christmas.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has stuck by the controversial cut, and told BBC Radio 4 that he is not being “dogmatic” by insisting on axing the £20-a-week pandemic boost.
He said: “We put in place a lot of things during the acute phase of coronavirus that were necessarily temporary – there’s things that are appropriate when you’re dealing with a hopefully once-in-a-century pandemic, and it’s reasonable that those things will come to a natural end.
“Whether it’s universal credit or indeed furlough, these things are coming to their end, but we’re not done supporting people.
“I don’t think anyone, given the support we’ve provided over the last year and a half, could accuse me or the government of being dogmatic or not wanting to support people, we just have a view about the best way to do that.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.