Universal credit ‘here to stay’ but bolstered with cash boost

29 Oct 18

Philip Hammond has announced an extra funding boost for the government’s flagship universal credit welfare scheme and said the system is “here to stay”, despite criticism. 

In his Budget speech today, the chancellor announced a £1.7bn increase to work allowances in universal credit and an extra £1bn to help with transition to the scheme.

Working parents and people with disabilities will be £630 better off each year because of this funding, he said.

Hammond said: “Universal credit is here to stay, and we are putting in the funding to make it work.”

To address the criticism by charities and opposition politicians, the chancellor said he would introduce a £1bn package of measures over five years to support universal credit, to “aid the transition”.  

He added that the government has already allocated £3.5bn to the implementation, which is an “enormous undertaking”.

“We have already been clear we want the migration [to universal credit] to be as smooth as possible,” he said.

The chancellor said that he would raise allowances in universal credit by £1,000 a year at a cost of £1.7bn annually, helping 2.4 million working families with children and people with disabilities. 

Responding to the announcement, Campbell Robb, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said it was an “important step” forward to tackle poverty.

“This move will help make universal credit a tool for tackling poverty, and ease the burden for low income families,” he said.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell had called on MPs to vote down the Budget if it did not address the universal credit scheme.

Hammond also announced that, from April, the National Living Wage would increase by 4.9% to £8.21, handing a full-time worker a further £690 more a year.

SNP MP Neil Gray tweeted that more was going to help people on higher wages rather than those on universal credit: 

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