A Christian charity has called for the Government to review its policy to give loans rather than grants to those on Universal Credit as it says coronavirus is set to send more people onto benefits.
The Trussell Trust has responded to the latest tax and spending plans set out by the Government in Wednesday's 2020 Budget meeting.
The Chancellor said coronavirus will have a "significant impact" on the UK economy but insisted it will be temporary, assuring that the UK has the 'economic tools to overcome the disruption' caused by Covid-19.
Rishi Sunak pledged a £30bn investment to tackle the issue, announcing help for firms with the cost of sick pay, faster access to benefits for the self-employed, a business rates holiday for small companies and a £500m hardship fund for councils to help the most vulnerable in their areas.
The Trussell Trust has welcomed the 2020 Budget but called for it to go further to help those in poverty.
Chief executive Emma Revie said: "The Chancellor is right when he says that coronavirus represents an unprecedented challenge for the UK, and to introduce measures to strengthen the safety net for the most vulnerable people. We welcome the extra financial support announced, particularly the £500m hardship fund for local councils, which can play a key role in anchoring us all from poverty.
"But as coronavirus unfolds, more people could need this safety net than ever before - especially those who aren't eligible for sick pay or have unstable jobs. For many of these people the five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment could cause real hardship, despite measures announced in today's Budget. We know the five-week wait is already pushing people to food banks, trapping many in debt and making issues with housing, ill health, disability and domestic abuse worse.
"In his statement, the Chancellor said that he will continue to review the situation. As more people look likely to move onto Universal Credit as a result of the outbreak, the most effective way to help would be to end the five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment by giving people grants, rather than loans that have to be paid back further down the line. We can prevent more people being locked into poverty as the outbreak develops by ending the wait now."
The budget will also invest £12.2bn into affordable homes, while £634m will be spent on efforts to end rough sleeping.
The National Insurance threshold will also be raised to £9,500, cutting the taxes for some 31 million people.