Universal Credit: Government has not assessed economic impact of £20-a-week cut due to hit millions, Therese Coffey admits

The Government has not conducted an economic impact assessment of its forthcoming removal of £20 a week from Universal Credit due to affect millions of households, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has admitted.

As Ms Coffey defended the Government’s decision to go ahead with the removal of the £20 ‘temporary uplift’ introduced in response to the pandemic, she was questioned by Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Minister Karen Buck on what assessment had been conducted into the impact of the policy.

Ms Buck said: “According to the Resolution Foundation, a quarter of all households in the North-East will lose £1,000 a year from the cut and this will strip millions from the economies of some of the poorest communities in the country. Has her department carried out an assessment of what the economic impact will be of this cut, coming into effect in just a few weeks’ time?”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Ms Coffey said: “My understanding is that as we always knew that the uplift was going to be temporary, an impact assessment was not undertaken as we knew it was going to be for a limited amount of time.”

Work and Pensions Minister Therese Coffey answering questions in Parliament on the Universal Credit cut.

The debate was sparked by a question from Hull East MP Karl Turner, who asked if the DWP would reverse the planned cut. Ms Coffey said: “As it was announced by the Chancellor at the March budget, the £20 temporary uplift will come to an end within the next month.”

Labour MP Mr Turner said: “Time and again the Government has promised investment into areas like East Hull and the Minister knows full well that this savage cut to Universal Credit will take £35m from our local economy and leave families worried about putting food on the table to feed their kids.”

Ms Coffey said: “This has always advocated to be a temporary uplift. At the time of the Budget, recognising that the pandemic was not over or certainly the lockdown elements we did extend it for further six months, as we did other support. When we had Labour’s crisis in the late Noughties, they did not do any changes to benefits, and we’re proud that we have done so in that temporary time.”

Last month, research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that the planned removal of a £20 a week ‘uplift’ to Universal Credit and Tax Relief will affect over one-third of working age families in 413 constituencies. Bradford West and Bradford East are among the Labour-held seats in the region expected to be worst-affected, with Great Grimsby among the ten most-hit Tory areas.

Downing Street suggested people who face losing £20 a week in Universal Credit could switch jobs.

Find a new job to cope with change, Government suggests

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are supporting people to increase their incomes in a number of ways.

"We are helping people learn new skills so they can progress to better jobs, indeed our Plan for Jobs provides a number of schemes which will help people learn these new skills and progress in their careers, and we are hiring 13,500 new work coaches to that end.

“We want to provide people with more skills and more training so that they can progress either in their chosen career or find another one.”

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you'll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click here to subscribe.