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Council urges increase to Universal Credit

Release Date: 27 January 2021

In last night's (Tuesday 26 January 2021) Full Council Meeting, Richmond Council again urged the Government to maintain the Universal Credit uplift introduced at the start of COVID-19 to continue to help over 11,000 residents buy day-to-day essentials like food.

The £20-a-week increase for Universal Credit was introduced by the Government for the 2020/21 financial year to help with the impact of coronavirus. The temporary rise is due to end on 12 April 2021.

Councillor Robin Brown, Finance and Resources Lead Member of Richmond Council, wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the end of last year to request that the £20-a-week increase for Universal Credit be made permanent. The previous level of benefits was not enough, and the extra money has relieved financial pressures for many Richmond upon Thames residents. 

Councillor Robin Brown, Finance and Resources Lead Member of Richmond Council, said:

"It is unreasonable to cut financial support when lockdown restrictions are still in place and creating huge financial pressures for many families. An extra £20 a week makes a significant difference to the lives of over 11,000 residents who currently claim Universal Credit.

"It has been suggested that the Chancellor is considering a one-off payment instead of permanently extending the extra support. That won't do. The old level was simply too low, and people should not be asked to try and live on it, now or in the future.

"The previous basic level of out-of-work support was just £73 a week – less than half the absolute poverty line.

"The Chancellor must keep providing for those who are struggling financially."

Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Fenna Maynard on 020 8487 5182.

Reference: P041/21

Updated: 24 March 2021