Cumbria Crack

Barrow MP calls for Universal Credit extra payments to continue

Barrow MP Simon Fell has called on the Government to maintain extra Universal Credit payments during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last spring, the Government gave people on Universal Credit an extra £20 a week to help ease financial pressures which households may be coming under as a result of COVID-19.

Pressure is now mounting on the Prime Minister from a group of Conservative backbench MPs who form the Northern Research Group in Parliament to maintain that change through the pandemic.

Mr Fell, who represents Barrow and Furness, is one of the MPs who has been urging the Government to continue with the uplift in payments.

Mr Fell has called for any plans to reduce Universal Credit payments to be paused. Contributing to a debate in Parliament, via video link from his office in Barrow yesterday, Mr Fell said: “My views on this issue are on the record.

“I am glad to stand with my colleagues in the Northern Research Group when we say that now is not the time to consider any reduction in the uplift in Universal Credit.

“More and more people have been pushed into the category of just about managing.

“More and more people are now using Universal Credit than ever before – indeed the system and its flexibility is the unsung hero of these times, providing a safety blanket for so many.”

In his speech, the MP referred to an email which he’d recently received from a constituent, who referred to the benefit as ‘life saving’.

Mr Fell said: “Yesterday I received an email from a constituent who had never used Universal Credit before, and told me that she had never expected to. But she called it ‘life-saving’.

“This government has done so much to support families through this crisis.

“But we should remember that phrase, Mr Deputy Speaker, and we should be unafraid at the Budget of maintaining the uplift while the effect of this pandemic is still being felt.

“Doing so would be very much in keeping with the agile and comprehensive support the Government has delivered to families since the start of this pandemic.”

A decision concerning the uplift in Universal Credit payments is expected to be made in March, when the Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP will present his budget to MPs.