Cost of living: Call to reinstate £20 benefits uplift – Plaid Cymru
Westminster’s refusal to deliver ‘a decent welfare system’ makes devolution more urgent than ever, says Hywel Williams MP
Plaid Cymru’s Work and Pensions spokesperson, Hywel Williams MP, has today (Monday 13 June) called on the UK Government to reinstate the £20 uplift to Universal Credit from July in order to protect vulnerable households from the cost-of-living crisis.
Mr Williams said that Westminster’s “stubborn refusal” to reinstate the £20 uplift to Universal Credit is “punishing people in poverty”. The uplift was scrapped in October 2021 and Ministers have repeatedly resisted calls to reinstate it despite the escalating cost-of-living crisis.
Mr Williams said that given the “emergency” facing households, a £20 uplift should also be extended to those in receipt of legacy benefits, and that all benefits should be also uprated in line with inflation.
Plaid Cymru are also calling on the Government to put an end to automatic deductions. The Child Poverty Action Group have estimated that in Wales approximately 92,000 households claiming Universal Credit are receiving an average of £60 less each month than they are entitled to, because of automatic deductions from their UC payment. These deductions affect an estimated 106,000 children in Wales.
Universal Credit offers just a fraction of the unemployment benefits provided by other European countries. Most European countries provide a proportion of previous earnings with a minimum benchmark; the Nordic countries offer as much as 90 per cent of previous wages. In comparison, the flat-rate payment offered by the UK is equivalent to just 14 per cent of average weekly earnings.
Wales has the highest poverty rate among the four UK nations, with almost 1 in 4 (23%) people living in poverty.
Hywel Williams MP said:
“Households across Wales are facing a cost of living emergency, yet Westminster’s stubborn refusal to increase the level of payments for those on Universal Credit is punishing people in poverty even further.
“Our welfare system has been gutted by successive UK governments – both blue and red – driven by an ideological obsession with cutting the size of the state. We must at the very least restore a basic principle of how the system should operate – that financial support should keep up with costs of living. That’s why, as well as restoring the uplift, the UK Government must uprate benefits in line with inflation.
“Ahead of what will be an incredibly difficult Autumn for households, the UK Government should also reconsider its heartless policy of automatic deductions. Approximately 92,000 households on Universal Credit in Wales are receiving an average of £60 less each month than they are entitled to, because of automatic deductions from their UC payment. These deductions affect an estimated 106,000 children in Wales.
“Universal Credit is one of the least generous welfare systems in Europe. If Westminster is unwilling to show the most basic level of human decency, we must demand powers over welfare so we can create a decent welfare system for the people of Wales.”