The £20 universal credit uplift came as a crucial lifeline to many during the pandemic. Yet, as the worst of the pandemic appeared over at the start of 2021, the government, and in particular Chancellor Rishi Sunak, were eager to remove it.
The uplift was originally scheduled to end in April 2021, but a six-month extension was given after intense public pressure.
By the time the new deadline loomed in September, the case for keeping the uplift was even more present. The country had undergone a sharp spike of inflation over the summer, and an extra top-up to the benefits system was more needed than ever.
It was in this context that Labour proposed an Opposition Day Motion calling for the uplift to be made permanent, with Conservative MPs abstaining.
Yet, despite this, the government let the deadline pass, and half a million people were plunged into poverty overnight. Although Sunak announced some minor tweaks to universal credit in his autumn budget, his policies still left both middle-earners and the unemployed significantly worse off than they had been during covid.
Once again, this scandal showed the lack of concern which the Conservative party has for the working classes. While small pots of money like the towns fund may do away with some of the visible signs of austerity, little has been done, despite promises of levelling up, to even begin to undo the damage of a decade of Conservative cuts.
Check out the rest of the advent calendar’s entries here, and stay tuned for more releases!