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Armstrong: Move to end Covid uplift payment is disappointing and cruel

Alliance Communities spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has reiterated her call for the Minister for Department for Work and Pensions to halt plans to end the £20 per week Covid add on to Universal Credit.

As it stands, the Westminster Government still plans to end the Covid uplift payment from the 6th of October – a move Kellie has termed as “disappointing and cruel”.

She added: “This is an extremely worrying time for families. The continual rise in Covid-19 cases means the impact of the virus has not gone away. If Westminster is going to remove this lifeline, I call on the Minister for Communities to detail how she is going to protect citizens by mitigating this shortfall until the end of the financial year.

“In the first instance Westminster needs to reconsider its actions. They claim their cut will encourage people into work. A third of claimants are already working, another third cannot work as they are sick or due to their disability or they have a terminal illness. A third are looking for work at a time when so many companies have closed, unable to stand the financial crisis. This means Westminster is taking away £100-120 per month when COVID is still impacting society.

“It is now time for the Communities Minister to step up, to make a plan to either pay the £20 per week through Ni welfare mitigations or proactively use Discretionary Support that often goes unclaimed, to make sure no family is struggling this winter.

“I look forward to hearing the Minister’s plans and will continue to do what I can as Vice Chair of the Committee for Communities to support local people in the coming Winter months. And while the high street voucher scheme should be going live shortly, they should not have to be used to make up a benefits shortfall.”