Rishi Sunak danced around the theme of reinstating the weekly £20 Universal Credit hike, which was introduced at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, during an appearance on the Sunday morning show on BBC One.
The Chancellor was discussing the support measures currently in place to help millions of households weather the cost of living crisis ahead of skyrocketing energy bills and inflation to come next month, in addition to the record gasoline prices.
Presenter Sophie Raworth asked him: ‘What would clearly help the poorest people is what you introduced during the pandemic, the £20 universal credit increase, will you reintroduce that or exclude that ?”
However, instead of a decisive and clear response, the Tory minister outlined all the support the UK government has in place to help ease the financial strain.
He replied: “I think what we’re doing is taking targeted action in the areas where we know there’s the most acute pressure, for example, on energy bills and that’s why we have a scheme in place, worth £9billion, it will help people tremendously.
“For people on Universal Credit, we’ve taken an approach to make sure their work is rewarded and of course I want to make sure we’re helping those who are most vulnerable.”
He went on to explain how the reduction of the Universal Credit Tapering Rate rule will see workers claiming the benefit, around ‘£1,000 a year better’.
He said: “This person is going to make an average of £1,000 better off of this policy. It is this government that ensures that we support those on the lowest incomes.
“I’m extremely proud that we’re doing this because I want to make sure these people get our help, and they get our help.”
Martin Lewis also appeared on the news and current affairs program and said the 54 per cent rise in the energy price cap, the equivalent of £693 on top of current fuel bills, from the April 1 will be “catastrophic for millions of households”.
He also pointed out that Ofgem was seven weeks away from its next price cap review and that analysts were already expecting an increase of “at least an additional £600 a year” – which would bring the total increase to 1,300. £ by October when the new prices are in place. .
The founder of MoneySavingExpert.com said: ‘I’ve been a money saving expert since 2000. I’ve been through the financial crash, I’ve been through Covid which was mitigated by some of the measures put in place by the Chancellor. This is the worst – where we are right now is the worst.
“When I read messages from people saying the priority over money was ‘do I go to the hairdresser, or do I go to the pub and have a takeaway’.
“Now it’s about prioritizing ‘feeding my kids over feeding myself.’ It’s just not tenable in our society and there’s absolute panic – and it hasn’t started yet.
In a direct appeal to Rishi Sunak, he said, “As a money-saving expert who is known for this, I have hardly any tools left to help people now.
“It’s not something money management can fix. It’s not something for those on the lowest incomes, telling them to cut their bills will work. We need political intervention.
The Chancellor will deliver his Spring Statement on Wednesday 23 March.
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