I agree that the £20 per week uplift to both Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits should be extended, and I and many of my Northern Conservative colleagues have called on the Treasury to confirm that extension as soon as possible.
The additional support was rightly introduced in March 2020 as a temporary measure to support those facing the most acute financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic. While I recognise that the uplift is temporary, it is clear that the pandemic is still ongoing, and withdrawing the uplift while restrictions are still in place would cause difficulty for many families, and weaken our economic recovery.
The uplifts are part of a £280 billion package that the Government has put in place to support jobs and livelihoods during this pandemic, including the self-employed and furlough schemes, which have now been extended to April, so businesses can keep staff on during this new national lockdown. Moreover, the Government has created a £220 million fund to support disadvantaged children, and a £170 million COVID Winter Grant Scheme, to be run by local councils, which will support children, families, and the most vulnerable during this difficult winter.
Any permanent changes to the welfare system must be fully costed within the framework of the Budget; and I believe the appropriate time to discuss making this uplift permanent, beyond the end of pandemic restrictions, would be in Budget debates.