Labour warns Sunak poorest 'devastated' if benefit boost not extended

Labour warns Rishi Sunak the poorest Britons ‘will be devastated’ if he fails to extend £20-a-week Universal Credit boost as Chancellor draws up plan for £500 one-off gift to replace it

  • Sunak wants to avoid making the Universal Credit increase a permanent feature 
  • Labour claims uplift introduced in the spring has become a lifeline for poorest
  • Sunak is looking at a £500 one-off gift, half the annual cost of the uplift per head
  • Comes as Britain stares down the barrel of a growing £280 billion covid bill 

Labour has warned Rishi Sunak that the poorest Britons ‘will be devastated’ if he fails to extend a £20-a-week Universal Credit boost he introduced in the spring.

The Chancellor is instead said to be considering a £500 one-off payment to six million benefit claimants rather than continue with the £1,000 annual uplift.

Mr Sunak wants to avoid making the Universal Credit increase a permanent feature of future budgets, according to The Times.

But Labour claims the extra money has become a lifeline for the poorest amid the pandemic and that any reduction would savage Britain’s economic recovery.  

Labour has warned Rishi Sunak that the poorest Britons ‘will be devastated’ if he fails to extend a £20-a-week Universal Credit boost he introduced in the spring

Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds warned that cutting Universal Credit would be ‘devastating for families already struggling to get by’.

He said: ‘Bringing in a one-off payment that doesn’t even equal half the amount the Government is planning to cut from millions of families’ incomes will damage our recovery.

‘With jobs being lost each day and the furlough cliff-edge looming, a lump sum rather than extended support will leave many to fall through the gaps.

‘Instead of yet another inadequate sticking plaster, the Government needs to do the right thing and cancel the cut to Universal Credit.

‘If the Chancellor refuses, we urge Conservative MPs to vote with Labour on Monday to give families the security and support they need.’

Labour will use its opposition day debate in the Commons on Monday to force a vote on the plans. 

It comes after Mr Sunak rejected plans for an emergency tax of 5 percent on those with assets in excess of £500,000.

The Wealth Tax Commission drew up plans for the tax on housing, pension, business, equity and savings wealth which it said would help Britain to foot its staggering £280 billion covid bill.

Mr Sunak couldn’t abide the ‘un-Conservative’ strategy which he said ran counter to his party’s aspirational ethos.

However, he is still considering a hike on capital gains tax which will hit the better-off and could raise billions.

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