The Oldham Liberal Democrats have welcomed the vote in Parliament earlier this week as a sign that there is cross-party support for the £20 weekly uplift in Universal Credit, introduced at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, to be made permanent.
At the end of an Opposition Day debate in the House of Commons, 278 Members of Parliament voted for the rise, putting pressure on the Conservative Government to extend it beyond the 31 March cut-off date. Amongst those MPs supporting the extension were all eleven Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament. There were no votes against, but, unfortunately, the vote is only advisory and not legally binding.
Oldham Liberal Democrat Council Group Leader Councillor Howard Sykes MBE wrote to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP last October asking him to ‘make a clear and principled policy decision’ and make the temporary rise permanent. He is hoping that the Chancellor will do just that in his forthcoming Spring Budget.
Commenting on the latest vote, Councillor Sykes said: “This vote puts further pressure on this government to do the right thing. I am glad that MPs of all parties, including all 11 Liberal Democrat MPs, voted in favour of continuing the payment.
“This temporary uplift of £20 per week, or £1,040 a year, if made permanent would be a Godsend to our poorest residents and their families. For many it will represent the difference between being able to put food before the family at mealtimes or keeping the lights on or keeping their home warm; or being unable to do so.”
“Although I would prefer the increase to be made permanent in the Spring Budget, even if the Chancellor will only agree to pay a lump sum or continue the increase for the duration of lockdown these are moves in the right direction, and we will have to keep up the pressure to achieve permanency.”