Universal Credit Update: pandemic, uplift, and Universal Support

The Government is currently due to end the 20 uplift to the Universal Credit (UC) Standard Allowance in September 2021.

Over 3 million more people are now reliant on UC than before the pandemic, many with pre-existing financial commitments, and have never experienced the old rate. The increase only partially reverses over a decade of benefit cuts under George Osborne’s Chancellorship. Most importantly of all, the vast majority of the increase in welfare costs to the DWP has not come from the uplift, but from the increase in the caseload (over 100%).

The CSJ therefore supports making the uplift permanent. However, reforms should not stop there; the uplift will not help those most in need, and will not address the challenge of unemployment. Further investment in UC should focus on households with children, reducing the UC taper rate, linking the Benefits Cap to inflation, and increasing work allowances.

Finally, the CSJ recognises that, leaving the economic impact of the pandemic aside, the root causes of poverty are often social, and those facing the most complex obstacles to employment would be helped most through rolling out Universal Support.

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