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Keep the £20pw Universal Credit lifeline and extend to those on legacy benefits

Submitted by Michelle Sorrell on Tuesday 26th January 2021

Published on Thursday 4th February 2021

Current status: Open

Open until: Wednesday 4th August 2021

Current Signatures: 11,704
(count is updated approximately hourly)

Relevant Departments

Tagged with

Budget ~ Children ~ Covid ~ Covid-19 ~ Extend ~ Friends ~ Government ~ Grant ~ income families ~ It ~ Pandemic ~ Parent ~ Rebecca ~ system ~ The Government ~ Time ~ Universal ~ Universal Credit ~ Universities

Petition Action

Keep the £20pw Universal Credit lifeline and extend to those on legacy benefits

Petition Details

By putting in place the £20pw Universal Credit uplift at the start of the crisis, the Government provided a vital lifeline to low income families & children. It is clear the crisis is far from over. The Government must keep the uplift in place and grant it to all families on benefits.

Additional Information

I’m a single parent of two and have disabilities preventing me from getting a full-time job. I didn’t qualify for the £20pw uplift as I’m on the old 'legacy benefits' system. Our financials got worse by the pandemic. £20 extra would mean giving the kids good food and to not hear them saying ‘I’m still hungry’.

My close friend Rebecca is a single working mother of one. Living on Universal Credit is very challenging for her, especially with no family or friends to help. £20 is her food budget. She’d be in trouble without it.


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Government Response

The Government responded to this petition on Thursday 11th March 2021

The Government has now confirmed the temporary £20 per week increase to Universal Credit remains in place for a further six months. There are no plans to extend a benefit increase to legacy benefits.

This Government is committed to supporting people on lower incomes. At the start of the pandemic, the Government introduced an unprecedented package of support, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and Statutory Sick Pay available from day one. During the pandemic, the Government has provided over £280 billion of support, protecting jobs, keeping businesses afloat, helping families get by.

We have also helped people with the cost of living – for example, through increasing the rate of Local Housing Allowance to the 30th percentile of local rents this financial year, and maintaining this as a cash increase next financial year. This measure is putting an average of £600 into the pockets of those claiming Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit. For those who need additional support with their housing costs, an additional £40 million was allocated to Discretionary Housing Payments this financial year.

Furthermore, our Warm Home Discount Scheme supports over two million low-income and vulnerable customers each year directly with their energy costs, and DWP works closely with utility companies on data matching for this initiative. In addition, to help people do the right thing if they are told to isolate, a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment is available to those who meet the relevant criteria.

As the vaccination programme gathers pace and the economy begins to reopen, we are shifting focus to helping people into work and increasing their earnings. The Government is clear that the best strategy to combat poverty is a jobs strategy, which is why we are investing £30 billion into our Plan for Jobs. The Plan for Jobs is a comprehensive package of employment interventions, including our flagship £2 billion Kickstart scheme, which is funding thousands of 6-month opportunities for young people, plus new Youth Hubs, a new Job Finding Support Service, and more. We are also increasing the number of Work Coaches by 13,500 this financial year, with 10,000 already recruited. All new Work Coaches will receive intensive training to give all our claimants the tailored support they need.

The Government will continue to ensure the most vulnerable are supported into the recovery phase. As announced in last week’s Budget, we will continue to provide additional support to low income working households most affected by the economic shock of Covid-19, by extending the temporary £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit for a further six months. In addition, this Government will provide a one-off payment of £500 to eligible Working Tax Credits claimants.

There are no plans to extend a benefit increase to legacy benefits, and Parliament has voted to bring an end to legacy benefits in Great Britain. Natural migration to Universal Credit is required when a person needs to claim new support because of a change of circumstances. Claimants on legacy benefits can also voluntarily make a claim for Universal Credit if they believe that they will be better off. Claimants on legacy benefits considering making a claim for UC should check carefully their eligibility and entitlements under UC before applying, as legacy benefits will end when claimants submit their claim and they will not be able to return to them in the future. For this reason, prospective claimants are signposted to independent benefits calculators on GOV.UK. They can also get help through the government funded Help to Claim scheme as well as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Citizens Advice Scotland. In the Northern Ireland, the benefit system is managed by the Department for Communities.

Support is also available for legacy claimants migrating to UC. Since July 2020, a two-week run-on of Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance and income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is paid to eligible claimants to provide additional support to move to Universal Credit. Legacy benefits were increased by £600 million from April 2020 and we will invest a further £100 million from April 2021 as part of uprating.

For those with disabilities, Access to Work continues to be available to assist in overcoming the barriers to employment. We remain committed to increasing the number of disabled people in work, and this will be a key tenet of DWP’s Disability Green Paper.

Furthermore, as of January 2021, there are now special arrangements for those in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium, who are now able to make a new claim to Universal Credit.

To give people extra support with their living costs, on 8th November 2020, we announced a significant package of extra targeted financial support for those in need over the winter period. The £170 million COVID Winter Grant Scheme provided new funding to County Councils and Unitary Authorities to help low-income households across England with the cost of food, energy and other essential costs. DWP will be extending the scheme by two weeks until 16th April, providing an additional £59m to Local Authorities to support vulnerable people.

Department for Work and Pensions

The information in the above response regarding migration from legacy benefits to Universal Credit was amended on 17 March 2021 at the request of the Department for Work and Pensions for the sake of clarity.

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