Universal credit is designed to provide financial support to those who need it most – those with low incomes or those who are totally unemployed. It is therefore the responsibility of the DWP to ensure that applicants receive the amount to which they are entitled, and at the right time. However, the benefit system has undoubtedly been strained recently as millions of people have flocked to the DWP for life-saving support amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
While many have received the support they need, a new report says an increase in universal credit is welcome.
The report, compiled by the International Monetary Fund, looked more broadly at the UK’s response to COVID-19 as a whole.
While the support measures offered by the UK government were somewhat praised, the IMF said further support could be adopted.
Referring directly to universal credit in the summary, the IMF report examined policy responses going forward.
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As such, the government could consider other levels of support.
He continued: “Given the risk of ever higher unemployment and low spending on active labor market policy, improvements to the safety net should be considered.”
On Brexit, the IMF urged the UK and the EU to do their utmost to cement a post-Brexit trade deal.
While the report indicated that progress had been made, it was vital to seek a “mutually beneficial compromise”.
Universal credit recently increased this year due to the pandemic, as the report acknowledges.
Due to COVID-19, the DWP has taken action to increase the sum by £ 20 per week, in addition to the annual reset.
This meant that for a single universal credit applicant over 25, for example, the standard allowance increased from £ 317.82 to £ 409.89 per month.
However, the £ 20 per week increase was only meant to be a temporary measure.
Thus, in April 2021, the amount is expected to decrease again.
So that means many families could lose £ 1,000 a year.
Several groups have therefore called for the temporary increase to become a permanent measure in the future.
A DWP spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We are fully committed to supporting the lowest paid families and, alongside the increase in living wages and the end of the benefit freeze, we have increased social assistance by £ 9.3bn during the pandemic and launched our £ 30bn jobs plan, to protect, support and create jobs as we build back better.