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Universal Credit: County Durham

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 54012, tabled on 23 September 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of the removal of the £20 uplift to universal credit on the number of people in (a) relative and (b) absolute poverty in County Durham.

Answered on

18 October 2021

No such assessments have been made of the effect of ending the £20 uplift on the numbers of people living in poverty in County Durham or Barnsley East.

It is not possible to produce a robust estimate of the impact of removing the £20 uplift on poverty. This is due to the uncertainty around the speed and distribution of the economic recovery, and the resulting effect on the caseload.

The latest poverty figures (2019/20) demonstrate that absolute poverty rates (both before and after housing costs) have fallen since 2009/10. In 2019/20, 14% of people were in absolute poverty (before housing costs), compared to 16% in 2009/10.

There have been significant positive developments in the public health situation since the uplift was first introduced. With the success of the vaccine rollout and record job vacancies, it is right that our focus is on helping people back into work. This approach is based on clear evidence about the importance of employment, particularly where it is full-time, in substantially reducing the risks of poverty.

This Government is wholly committed to supporting those on low incomes, and continues to do so through many measures, including by increasing the living wage, and by spending over £111 billion on welfare support for people of working age in 2021/22.

We recognise that some people continue to require extra support, which is why we have introduced a £421 million Household Support Fund to help vulnerable people in England with essential household costs over the winter as the economy recovers. The Barnett Formula will apply in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving around £80 million (£41m for the Scottish Government, £25m for the Welsh Government and £14m for the NI Executive), for a total of £500 million.

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