DOMINIC Raab has insisted ending the £20 uplift to Universal Credit will help families escape the “welfare trap” and find better paid jobs.
The deputy PM swatted away fears millions of Brits will have to choose between heating and eating after the weekly payment is scrapped today.
He said the Government can’t keep effectively subsidising low wages by paying more benefits to Brits who are already in work.
Mr Raab also insisted this Christmas will be “absolutely” better than the last despite warnings of a tough winter ahead and possible shortages.
Boris Johnson had been urged to keep the £20 uplift by senior figures in his own party including ex leader Iain Duncan Smith.
But his deputy defended the move to scrap it and claimed it’s part of the PM’s long-term plan to turn Britain into a high wage, high skill economy.
He said: “We need to transition. We don’t want to see people relying on the welfare trap.”
Mr Raab said No 10 is determined to end Britain’s reliance on “the cheap drug of unskilled labour from abroad”.
The deputy PM said: “Our vision for the economy as we bounce back from this terrible pandemic, employment rising, youth unemployment going down, is also to make sure that wages are rising.
“It’s absolutely true that if we’re, over a long period of time, overly reliant on cheap, unskilled labour from abroad, we’re ducking some of the big productivity issues that we’ve got to address.”
He also said it was “clearly unsustainable long term” to keep pandemic financing in place and the UC uplift was “always going to be temporary”.
Heating or eating
Ministers have said keeping the £6bn a year scheme would require a penny on income tax and 3p on the price of fuel.
The Resolution Foundation think tank warned the cut will see 4.4m households, including 3.5m children, lose £1,000 a year overnight.
But Mr Raab insisted there are other Government schemes available to help the poorest families through the winter months.
When it was put to him that families will now face the choice between heating and eating, he replied: “I don’t think that’s right.”
And he added: “We’ve got the right balance between encouraging those into work who can work, but also ensuring the welfare net is there for those who need it.”
He also echoed the PM’s remarks that Christmas will “absolutely” be better this year than last despite warnings over crumbling supply chains.
When the risk of shortages was put to him, he replied: “I’m confident you’ll get your turkey.”
Mr Raab said the strong bounce back of the economy from Covid will help the country through the winter and “you can feel it on the high street”.