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UK News

Bishops of Durham and Portsmouth sign open letter to see increase of Universal Credit permanent

by Kelly Valencia

Rt Rev Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, and Rt Rev Christopher Foster, the Bishop of Portsmouth, and Christian charities are among the 50 signatories that have written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to make the £20-a-week increase in Universal Credit, plus other benefits, permanent.

In April, the Government increased the minimum payment by £20 a week in order to mitigate the effects of coronavirus, but this extra help will be cut in April next year.

The standard allowance varies from £342 to £594 per month depending on age and civil status.

In an open letter, Christians Against Poverty, Church Action on Poverty, The Salvation Army, Transforming Lives for Good, food banks and housing organisations have warned the Chancellor that if the change is reversed, thousands of people would struggle to live, according to the letter.

“700,000 more people will be pulled into poverty, including 300,000 children, and 500,000 more of those already in poverty will be plunged into deep poverty (more than 50% below the poverty line). We are therefore urging you to make the uplift permanent and stop families being cut adrift whilst they need help to stay afloat.”

According to the letter, making the increase permanent and extending the legacy benefits would cost the Government £9 billion a year.

“[The £9bn total cost is] a significant investment but crucial for our nation’s recovery. We urge the Government to keep doing the right thing, keep families afloat and keep the lifeline.”

This comes after Rishi Sunak announced his Winter Economy Plan last week. The proposed Job Support Scheme will see workers get three quarters of their normal salary for six months. However, the letter warns that the Chancellor´s initiatives may not be enough and that further assurances are needed.

“Your statement last week made clear that many families will see job losses over the months to come, and even those whose jobs are protected through the Job Support Scheme will see income cuts. Along with measures to protect jobs, we hope to see reassurance and commitment to those who have already, or will be faced with, job and income loss.”

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