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MPs vote in favour of extending £20 weekly Universal Credit increase

MPs have voted overwhelmingly in support of maintaining a £20 weekly Universal Credit (UC) rise into April and beyond.

Labour’s motion was approved by 278 votes to zero in the Commons today, after Boris Johnson ordered Conservatives to abstain from taking part. It comes as charities and anti-poverty campaigners pleaded with the Government to preserve the support, worth £1,000-a-year.

The increase is currently due to end on March 31, and is expected to affect around 5.7 million families known to be using UC as of October 8 last year.

The motion is non-binding, but Labour hope it will ramp up pressure on the Government to extend the deadline.

There has been a 90% increase in the number of people using UC due to the pandemic. Sir Keir Starmer previously said families ‘needed certainty’ that their safety net would not disappear.

He said: ‘If we don’t give a helping hand to families through this pandemic, then we are going to slow our economic recovery as we come out it. We urge Boris Johnson to change course and give families certainty today that their incomes will be protected.’

The Prime Minister had previously described Labour’s vote on UC as a ‘political stunt’. Johnson’s press secretary stated that no final decision about whether to keep the uplift had been made.

She continued: ‘MPs are being told to abstain because today is not the day when we will be announcing our next steps on the £20 Universal Credit uplift.

‘This is an opposition day debate. It is them making families up and down the country concerned they will not be able to get the food they might need during the February half-term, when that is not true.

‘Labour is pulling a political stunt because they know that children who could go hungry during the February half-term will not go hungry because of the policy that is in place.’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to update the public on the Government’s plans ‘shortly’. Today the PM repeatedly declined to say whether the increase will be extended during a visit to vaccine centres in Oxfordshire.

He told reporters: ‘What we have said is we will put our arms around the whole of the country throughout the pandemic. We have already done £280 billion worth of support and we will keep all measures under constant review.’

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