The £20.00 top-up to Universal Credit, has been, a lifeline. Most people think of benefits as something for unemployed people, however, UC is available for those at work too. UC is a combination of benefits, rolled, into one. Iain Duncan Smith, Work and Pensions Secretary under David Cameron, devised this scheme. And on paper, rolling 7 benefits into one sounds ideal. However, the roll-out and operation of UC, has proved problematic over time, since, it was first devised.
During the lockdown, Chancellor Rishi Sunak added £20.00 to Universal Credit. This helped many people, both in and out of work. It enabled those who are unemployed and those in work, to put more food on the table. It enabled, people, to pay their rents, pay their mortgages, pay bills, etc.
As with the furlough scheme, the £20.00 top-up was not meant, to last forever. Both schemes were brought in to help people, during the pandemic. Both the furlough scheme and the £20.00 top-up to UC, are now being wound down.
The worst affected areas, if the top-up is cut, will be the Midlands and the North. It goes without saying, that the Midlands and the North, always suffer, when something like this happens. Those in the know reckon, that, the North and the Midlands will lose £2.5 billion from their economies of those areas, (if the £20.00, is taken away).
With the £20.00 top-up being brought to an end at the end of this month, it will be a cliff-edge, moment. Many people, both in and out of work, have come to depend on the £20.00 top-up. It is, understandable, why families will be potentially thrown into poverty when and if, this top-up, is ended.
Charities, religious groups, opposition MPs, and even Tory ones, are cajoling the government, to keep the top-up. Ending the top-up will be a "recipe for disaster" according to Imran Hussain, of the charity: "Action for Children".
The Labour party, is vehement in its opposition, to the scrapping of the £20.00 top-up. If the scrapping goes ahead, the Labour party will call this, callous and cruel. And, for the reasons pointed out in this piece, they will have a point.
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, will never know what it is to be on low wages or come to that, benefits. How could he? A one-time employee of Goldman Sachs, the richest MP in parliament, married to an Indian billionaire's daughter, a mansion in his constituency in Yorkshire, homes in the US. Boris, an old Etonian, coming from a wealthy family and a dynasty such as the Johnsons. So how can, such people know the sufferings of the poor, even if they tried?
As far, as people like Wishy-Washy Rishi are concerned, he is a man of finance. His world, is all about, balancing the books. And, that's not his fault, in the work he has done, in his 41 years that's his experience. Sunak has made in his time as Chancellor, some major mistakes. For example, the 'Eat Out To Help Out Campaign', though originally conceived, as a good idea, proved to be a disaster. Of course, no one is perfect, but the Chancellor has also made other mistakes. Some see him as a potential successor to Boris, and many fear, what would happen if he did become Prime Minister. Many see him as a dangerous man, time will tell. In appointing Sunak, Boris thought Sunak, would be a 'yes man' and bend to his will. However, Boris has made a rod for his own back, because Sunak has proved popular among Tory voters and some, in the Tory party.
Boris thought about sacking or demoting Sunak, but because of his popularity, Boris had second thoughts. There is tension, between Sunak and Johnson, particularly over the nation's finances. A showdown will occur between Johnson and Sunak, at some point. Only one of them will ultimately survive, this, politically.
Sunak's star has risen far, in the upper echelons, of the Conservative party. How far he will go, will depend on what happens, going forward, politically. Boris right now appears, to be waning, both within his own party and in the land. The clown that entered number 10, fresh from his 2019 general election success, has gone. Boris has battled COVID, battled through Brexit, been attacked left right and centre, so what we have today, is a very different Boris. In a Boris v Rishi scenario, one would probably favour the Hindu Chancellor, however, to right off Boris could be premature.
Rishi has a lot going for him, he is a bright young thing. Whereas Boris, is a tired old warhorse, but don't let that fool you. A lot can happen between now and the next general election. Sunak and Johnson, know that whatever happens in this period, will determine both their fates.
Finally, then, let us hope Boris and Rishi, despite their differences, will do the one correct thing and retain the £20.00 UC top-up.