BORIS Johnson has defended the government’s decision to phase out the £20 increase for Universal Credit users.

Current Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told MPs on Wednesday that the increase would end this autumn.

The PM faced questions on Wednesday evening from a Liaison Committee about the plan to axe the payment increase that was brought in during the pandemic as extra support for those in need.

He said that the government is focusing on a “jobs led” recovery from the pandemic and to “get people into work”.

Currently, six million British citizens are on the Universal Credit (UC) benefit and 37 per cent are already in paid jobs.

The Argus: Money.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former Tory leader who oversaw the creation of UC is among six different ex-ministers who have asked the government to make the increase permanent in order to protect those that need the most support post-pandemic.

Reportedly, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said that the cut will force half a million people into poverty, including 200,000 children.

The government has admitted it has no idea how many children will move into poverty in the process of the phasing out.

The Argus:

The PM said that whilst everything is under “constant review”, his instincts are to continue with the plan to cut the increase in September.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also defended the move, stating that the increase was only temporary during the Covid crisis and is no longer necessary.

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Labour MP Carolyn Harris said on BBC’s Politics Live that the £20 is a week's food for some families and criticised Tory MP Andrew Rosindell’s use of the term “hand out” stating the UC benefit is not charity.

Therese Coffey told MPs the UC increase will finish when the six-month extension ends in October.

She said that ahead of October “we will start communicating with the current claimants to make them aware that it will be being phased out and they will start to see an adjustment in their payments.”