Removal of universal credit uplift would be callous, says Farry

COVID-19 Stephen Farry

The removal of the £20 uplift in universal credit by the UK Government would be callous and at odds with enabling everyone to realise their full potential in an inclusive society, Alliance MP Stephen Farry has said.

The North Down MP was speaking after the House of Commons backed a non-binding Labour motion to cancel the Government’s planned repealing of the £20 uplift in universal credit, which was introduced as part of the response to the COVID pandemic. It is due to expire on October 6.

Dr Farry said it should be made permanent.

“I voted to support the continuance of the £20 uplift in universal credit and want to make it permanent. This uplift was introduced as part of the wider financial and economic support offered by the Government due to the pandemic,” he said.

“Like other parts of the UK, Northern Ireland has seen a massive increase in the number of people claiming universal credit, doubling since the start of the pandemic. However, this uplift has served to reflect the even more precarious situation under which too many individuals and families were forced to survive.

“Now emerging from the pandemic, there is a need to rebuild and reshape our economy and society, and, in particular, to place a much greater emphasis on equity and social justice. The planned removal of this uplift comes at a time of increased energy costs, the recently announced hike in national insurance contributions which disproportionately hits the low paid, and the end of furlough which could see a significant increase in redundancies.

“I have been lobbied by a large of constituents on this issue, and am grateful for their representations. The UK economy can easily support and maintain the higher level of universal credit payments, especially when considered against other spending commitments. Any removal of this benefit from so many people living on such tight margins would be callous, and at odds with an inclusive society and enabling everyone to realise their full potential in it.”