Universal Credit row erupts: Boris warns uplift will mean tax rises for millions of
The Prime Minister said extending the temporary measure would cost up to £6 billion. The £20-a-week uplift was first introduced during the start of the first lockdown and was intended to support people through the pandemic. But the Government has confirmed the scheme will officially end on October 6th, leaving recipients £1,040 a year worse-off annually.
The move has been widely criticised, with Tory backbenchers opposing the cut to the benefit.
Mr Johnson, speaking to reporters in America, said he had “sympathy” with people who are struggling but said tax rises would be inevitable if the measure was extended.
“I have every sympathy with people who are finding it tough and I really really do, but I think we have to recognise that in order to maintain the Covid uplift you‘ve got to find another five or six billion in tax, that would have to come out of people’s pockets,” he said.
“I would just point out that the best solution is to continue to invest in people’s skills, to make sure they are getting the type of jobs that reward their hard work and you are starting to see that.
“Wages going up, that’s what we want to see. Wages are rising faster than they have been for a long time and the philosophy of this government is to try to produce high skill high wage economy.
“We want to support families.”
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and ex-Cabinet minister Damian Green are among a number of Tories trying to force the government to reverse its decision to scrap the uplift.
But Business Minister Paul Scully has said both income tax and fuel duty would need to rise to keep it in place.
He told Sky News: “The Chancellor will look at the whole aspect of public finances in the Budget and the Spending Review that is coming up.
“But if you were to reverse the Universal Credit as it is, you would have to put up income tax by the equivalent of a penny and 3p on fuel.
“You have to find £6 billion from somewhere.”
But when he was told “most people would accept putting a penny on income tax” to pay to keep the uplift, Mr Scully said: “What I’m saying is you have to find £6 billion from somewhere and what you don’t want to be doing, for the lowest paid in particular, is giving with one hand and taking and increasing taxes with the other.”
His comments come as Citizens Advice warn the cut will leave 1.5 million workers in hardship.
The charity is anticipating a surge in families seeking its support as rising energy prices and higher living costs are compounded by the cut to Universal Credit.
Its latest research shows two thirds (67 percent) of working claimants say they’ll face hardship if the cut goes ahead.
This includes struggling to pay their bills, getting into debt or being forced to sell belongings to make up for the shortfall in their income.
Around one in four working claimants, equivalent to 600,000 people, are worried they might not be able to afford food or other basic necessities like toiletries.
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