The temporary uplift was announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in March 2020, and it meant both Working Tax Credit and Universal Credit increased by £1,040 per year for one year only. This boost is due to end in April 2021, prompting calls for the Government to extend the uplift.
Campaigners have also urged Mr Sunak to provide the same £20 per week boost to legacy benefits claimants.
A petition, titled Don’t Leave Disabled People Behind was signed by more than 119,000 people last year, and handed to the Chancellor in November 2020.
It calls for the two million disabled people, lone parents and families who receive legacy benefits, such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Jobseekers Allowance and Income Support, to access a £20 uplift which millions of Universal Credit claimants have received since the beginning of the pandemic.
MPs have also asked the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about the matter in the House of Commons.
The prospect of an uplift to legacy benefits of £20 per week is something which Express.co.uk asked DWP minister Will Quince about last month.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Work and Pensions was speaking to Express.co.uk during an exclusive interview on the topic of Universal Credit.
“We increased legacy benefits by 1.7 percent and they’ll increase next year again by 0.5 percent so both in line with CPI and that’s standard practice,” he said.
“I think there are two points really. The £20 per week temporary measure was very much designed to give additional support to those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the pandemic.
“It also, as it happened, brought Universal Credit in line with SSP [Statutory Sick Pay] and in addition, we wouldn’t have been able to make the system changes to what are quite archaic legacy benefits systems even if we had wanted to.
“The other point to make is the future is Universal Credit, and we have been absolutely clear as a government that we want people to move over from legacy benefits onto Universal Credit, with the exception of those who are part of the Severe Disability Premium gateway, but that’s a very small cohort of people.
“People do have the choice and ability to move over to Universal Credit from legacy benefits,” he added.
However, the minister also issued a warning to those who are on legacy benefits regarding moving to Universal Credit.
GOV.UK states a person who receives any of the aforementioned benefits doesn’t need to do anything unless one of two things happens.
These are if they have a change of circumstances which they need to report, or the DWP contacts them about moving to Universal Credit.
Furthermore, the government website warns: “If you get tax credits, they will stop when you or your partner applies for Universal Credit.
“Check how tax credits and Universal Credit affect each other.”
Do you have a money dilemma which you’d like a financial expert’s opinion on? If you would like to ask one of our finance experts a question, please email your query to firstname.lastname@example.org.